CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits (UPDATED)

Summary:In a brief email sent to customers at 10:45PM EST, Verified Identity Pass notified its 250,000 customers that the CLEAR service was no more (click on photo to enlarge)Well I can't say that it was unexpected, but it's definitely a bummer.Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

In a brief email sent to customers at 10:45PM EST, Verified Identity Pass notified its 250,000 customers that the CLEAR service was no more (click on photo to enlarge)

Well I can't say that it was unexpected, but it's definitely a bummer.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Citing an inability to negotiate an agreement with a large creditor to continue operations, Verified Identity Pass, which runs the CLEAR service which helped speed registered travelers through TSA security lines 18 airports in the United States, announced that it was going out of business.

Verified Identity Pass was a private venture by law writer Steven Brill, who was known for founding the publications American Lawyer and Brill's Content, a well-known media watchdog which ceased publication in 2001. Brill is also a co-founder of the CourtTV network, now known as truTV.

In a statement Tuesday, June 23rd 2009, former CEO Steven Brill said the following regarding the fate of the company:

Although I have had no role in the management of Clear since February, when the investors who led a round of financing in 2008 decided to take control of the company, I am deeply saddened for Clear’s dedicated staff and loyal customers that the company has ceased operations. I can only speculate about the causes of the company’s demise. What I do know for sure, however, is that the need for intelligent risk management hasn’t diminished and that programs like Clear should have a role in our future, as we try to use common sense to balance security needs with freedom and the free flow of commerce."

The CLEAR service was known for its special security lanes in airports which allowed its members to bypass long lines and proceed directly to the screening process, which was enabled by background security checks and advanced biometric fingerprint and retina scanning technology used to authenticate the identity of the service subscribers. CLEAR had approximately 250,000 subscribers.

Also Read: Expedited Airport-Security Service Shuts Down (CNET)

CLEAR had a number of issues during its operation that may have contributed to its demise, such as the obstruction of its use by Continental Airlines at Newark Liberty Terminal C,  and a widely-publicized incident in which the company misplaced a laptop computer which had personal information from over 30,000 CLEAR members stored on it at San Francisco International Airport. The laptop was eventually found, but the incident may have seriously damaged the company's reputation and harmed its ability to secure additional members and add additional airports. Lengthy negotiations with various airports to add the special lanes also contributed to the service's woes.

While members may have little recourse on collecting refunds from recently charged $199 per year membership fees other than filing a dispute with their credit card company (which usually can only be disputed within 90 days of purchase) CLEAR has posted copies of their Privacy Policy and Online Privacy Policy which are supposed to ensure the safety or destruction of the biometric and personal data, so there may be some relief that the data will be disposed of properly.

I personally was a user of the CLEAR service and while I found that I was only able to use it in a few cities I traveled to, the time reduction on line at TSA security in the airports I used it at was significant, such as at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) and at San Francisco International (SFO). Here's hoping that the concept and the idea of a registered traveler for accelerated screening doesn't die with the company. I'm thinking that a large credit card company such as American Express would do well by buying up the assets of CLEAR and restarting it as a value added service for Gold/Platinum/Corporate members.

Are you a CLEAR member and sad to see the service go? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Security

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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