All is not clear with the Clear "fast pass" program

Published 25 August 2008

TSA suspended Verified Identity Pass (VIP) from the Registered Traveler program because one of VIP’s computer, containing the personal details of 33,000 customers who had registered for the program; the lap top was found, and TSA reinstated VIP; Priva technologies, locked in a legal battle with VIP over trademarks, is unhappy

We reported a week ago (HS Daily Wire, 18 August 2008) that TSA had suspended Verified Identity Pass (VIP) from the Registered Traveler program becasue one of the company’s computer, containing the personal details of 33,000 customers who had registered for the program, was lost. The lap top was recovered and handed over to TSA for forensic review, and the agency rescinded its earlier decision and now allows the company to continue to register passengers.

Not everyone is happy with the decision. “The Transportation Security Administration has allowed Verified Identity Pass (VIP) to resume enrolling travelers in its Clear ‘fast pass’ program, but the fallout from the security breach that caused the TSA to suspend the VIP program in the first place has significantly harmed the credibility of the fledgling registered traveler industry,” according to Jeff Minushkin, chairman and CEO of Priva Technologies. Minushkin says the incident has had a particularly negative impact on Priva’s Cleared secure access control technology brand because of confusion caused by VIP in using a brand so close to that of Priva. Priva and Verified Identity Pass are involved in a legal dispute over the use of the Clear/Cleared brand names.

The incident, which has been widely reported as yet another example of personal data vulnerability, may have particularly negative implications for Priva because of the similarities in our brand names, an issue that is being litigated,” says Minushkin. Priva’s access control technology utilizes its proprietary Cleared Security Platform, which is unrelated to VIP’s Clear service.

We are pursuing legal proceedings because our trademark rights and our registration both predate VIP’s mark by several years,” Minushkin notes. “Ironically, in addition to authenticating user credentials for access control, Priva’s Cleared technology has earned one of the government’s highest certifications for its ability to provide exceptionally high levels of data protection to thwart intruders who might steal a laptop such as the one lost in San Francisco,” he says.

Priva was approved by the TSA in February as a registered traveler service provider and at that time it announced plans to deploy its proprietary Cleared platform to help speed passengers through airport security procedures. “Our intention is to initiate our ClearedTraveler program soon after phase one deployment of the Cleared platform for employee access control, which is currently underway at several unidentified airports,” Minushkin explains. “Our initial focus is on providing the technology for controlling who gets to go where within the confines of the airport,” says Alvy Dodson, a former TSA federal security director who is executive vice president of Priva’s Cleared Travel Corp. subsidiary.

Dodson points out that the Cleared technology was designed over a period ten years specifically to control physical and electronic access and incorporates the only biometrically-enabled microchip for commercial use ever to receive the government’s FIPS140-2 Level 3 certification. Other service providers utilize “off the shelf” solutions that are more easily compromised, he explains.