CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits (UPDATED)

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.

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TOPICS: Security
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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.

Topic: Security

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience 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.

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Talkback

36 comments
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  • Jason, clear your mind

    drink Bacardi rum.
    davebarnes
  • Even worse

    Every one of the staff members who worked for the service inside the airports was handed walking papers this evening after this announcement went out. Hundreds of workers just lost their jobs.


    -- Disclosure: My employer provides 2nd Level Call Center support to the onsite personnel supporting repair and maintenance for the Clear RT program. Or provided, as the case may now be.
    MariusSilverwolf
    • RE: CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits

      @MariusSilverwolf if u know jewal,jaxon canary jacque ect truth and actions may save you major headach in futur,you seem smart man ,hear me out .
      maxuk1
  • Useless business model

    #1- Only a very small number of airports supported the program in the US. For the international traveler, it was useless.
    #2- In the very few that supported it, it only saved about 5 minutes or less of wait time.
    #3- Too expensive and had to be renewed every year.
    wackoae
    • Re: Useless business model

      I travel 200K plus mile per year and the clear lanes have been
      awesome.
      #1 - they are in the airports with the most business travel, 80 of my
      trips were through clear lines this year so far
      #2 - it save on average 30mins in ATL, and on bad days for ATL a
      good hour is saved with clear
      #3 - It was less per year than I would spend on one hotel night and
      cab far for a missed flight, can't call that expensive at all

      I will agree it's not for the casual traveler, but for those of us on the
      road every day. I have a flight tomorrow and I'm already dreading having to go back to the normal lines listening to people argue with
      TSA that their kid needs to carry his doll though.

      Please somebody buy the assets and resurrect clear.
      michaelhamelin
      • Re: Useless business model

        Amen Michael! Completely agree...
        eclairebran
      • Useless business model.

        I totally agree with you. While I often traveled for business with clear, my husband traveled as the casual traveler and we both loved it!
        sunnyz
      • RE: CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits

        @michaelhamelin
        @MariusSilverwolf if u know jewal,jaxon canary jacque ect truth and actions may save you major headach in futur,you seem smart man ,hear me out .
        maxuk1
  • RE: CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits

    I absolutely love(d) my Clear card! Easy when I traveled on business and when I traveled for fun, my kids got to tag along and the wait went by quickly!
    tac_drive
    • RE: CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits

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      zolof_1
  • RE: CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits

    I have had clear for over 2 years. I loved it. I travel out of Oakland most of the time and having a system in place that fixed my time in the security line was awesome. I will miss it, a lot. I, too, hope that the concept didn't die. Maybe a smart travel company will take over, and run it better.
    rock1860
  • RE: CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits

    Totally bummed. I'm flying of SFO tomorrow morning and was hoping not to be part of the cattle call...no more. Hopefully another company will come through.
    hofsess
  • RE: CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits

    Loved it -- Wonder how to recover the annual re- subscription I just paid for. Interesting that the Bay Area (Norm Mineta's turf) is the only one which systematically supported the Clear Card....
    Now must use Southwest's Business Select, so I can use the "first class" line.
    sfogirl1@...
    • how to recover the annual re- subscription...

      Dispute the charge with your credit card company - they should give you a refund, since the service you paid for isn't going to be provided.
      scottdunham10@...
      • American Express

        I just got off the phone with Amex and they can only go back 90 days to get the credit.
        SPNorton
  • RE: CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits

    There is a lot of highly personal physiological data they have of mine and many other people. This presents a security issue to the government as well as me. How is this dat kept from terrorists or others who want to use it for harm to others?
    Kahuna1958
    • You have a good point

      I think all of the members of clear should be extremely concern at this point. If this information should get in the wrong hands, we could all be victims of more than just identity theft. I intend to contact the appropriate authorities today to find out if we have any recourse. I want my identity back or the assurance that it could be protected to say the least. When I get more information that I feel would be beneficial to us, I will certainly post it.
      shaunajjohnson
      • Privacy Policies are still in place

        The only two links on the FlyClear.com site are to the two privacy policies, which still stand. That data was never stored in any manner that would be accessible to anybody outside the very small circle of approved vendors. The program may be out of operation at the moment, but the personal data of all the RT members -- including those in FLO, RTGo, and Preferred Traveler -- is still secure.
        MariusSilverwolf
  • RE: CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits

    I have been a Clear member from the beginning. It has saved by travel plans more times that I care to think about. I spent all last year commuting from SFO/SJC to IAD, all airports with horrid lines, especially on Monday mornings. Clear lanes meant the line snaking around Term C at SJC could be ignored and a coffee reliably purchased. The predictability was the nicest thing, but the staff was always really helpful, especially when my wife was traveling alone with my 2 year old. They always made her progress through security a breeze, she stopped worrying about. I guess we are back to worrying. Sigh!

    Let's hope someone comes and does a better job of running the company next time. Although I'll be weary about doing anything other than an annual membership - I still had 2 years left on my current one. Chances of a refund are probably zero.
    barrycoleman
  • RE: CLEAR Airport Verified Identity Pass calls it Quits

    One trip through Orlando more than justified annual fee. Also seemed very innovative public/private partnership with private sector doing valuable research/feasibility validation that would be potitically difficult for government. Feels like real setback to public/private partnership model.
    blanalan