Over the past few months, we’ve heard that the TSA will begin requiring some CLEAR passengers to show ID to TSA agents. Now we know why.
The Washington Post previously reported that changes to CLEAR’s ID policy were a result of security breaches, but didn’t specify what those were. Thanks to a recent Politico report, we now know more details.
The security breaches involved two incidents in which a CLEAR employee escorted people through TSA security checkpoints who were not enrolled in CLEAR and who had not displayed ID. In one case, they actually escorted someone through security who was using a boarding pass they found in the trash.
These are not the first security breaches involving CLEAR. An incident in July 2022 involved a passenger in Alabama using someone else’s identity to register for CLEAR. Even when CLEAR’s software flagged an ID mismatch, the passenger was allowed through. He was later caught at Washington National Airport trying to bring ammunition through a checkpoint.
Congress and TSA response
Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi criticized CLEAR for its “lax security controls” and said that “the company puts its bottom line ahead of the security of our aviation system.”
In response to lawmakers urging them to mandate all CLEAR passengers present their IDs, the TSA has begun to increase the number of CLEAR passengers they ID. The TSA is considering requiring all CLEAR passengers to present ID, though that’s still not a certainty and may not end up happening.
The end of CLEAR?
As Lucky at OMAAT pointed out, one of the major selling points of CLEAR is that passengers can save time by not getting out their IDs–so if CLEAR passengers are required to show IDs in addition to scanning their irises at the CLEAR kiosks, there’s not much point in the program.
We’ve now gotten clarity on the security breaches that have led to changes in CLEAR’s ID policy. Luckily for CLEAR, it’s not certain that all customers will have to present IDs to the TSA. If things do go that way, though, I don’t like CLEAR’s chances for survival.