Law experts: can you be denied entrance to a TSA checkpoint for not saying your name?

I’ve mentioned a few times in the past the “security” tactic the TSA employs at some airports (including JFK and SFO) whereby they ask you to say your name as they check your ID (and contrary to popular belief/logic, this is not a behavior detection technique, given that the agents asking these questions aren’t behavior detection officers).

But I really am curious about this from a legal perspective. Can you legally be denied entry to the secure area for refusing to say your name? I’m looking at the TSA’s website, and I don’t see any reference to having to answer any questions in order to be allowed to pass through the checkpoint, as long as you submit yourself to all the required security. Presumably the purpose of the program is to ensure nobody passes through the checkpoint with a fake ID, though it would seem to me that offering to show an alternative form of identification would accomplish the same purpose, no?

So does anyone know what the law actually is? Nothing I’ll lose sleep over, but I’m just kind of curious.

Filed Under: Security/TSA
  1. Lucky,

    It’s interesting. My experience with this started in 2011. I definitely noticed it at SFO first (my home airport)-and it wasn’t occurring anywhere else. Then suddenly at JFK, and now at MIA, ORD, et al.

    Wonder what’s up with it.

    I did see a guy in the security lane once say “My name is on my boarding pass and ID”…(Now, I’m always *Thinking* that ;)) – but the agent responded “Verbally, please sir” and he obliged.

    I’ve done searches on it and haven’t been able to find anything other than pax reports.

  2. It isn’t your right to fly. You can be denied entrance for any non-discriminatory reason they want.

  3. Have you asked the lawyer bloke behind Lowering The Bar? He sounds like he’d be up for some research…

  4. I wonder what the response would be if you gave them a different name from and then explained “But it’s not pronounced the way it’s spelled”

  5. @ shmulik — Well I’ve started to give in since it’s obviously not worth the trouble, though I did refuse on principle.

    My issues:
    a) Many people’s names are pronounced different than they’re spelled.
    b) Not everyone wants to say their name out loud in front of others
    c) It adds no layer of security whatsoever. In my opinion it shouldn’t even be the TSA’s job to check names (after all, as long as passengers are properly screened it doesn’t matter who gets on a plane).
    d) If behavior detection officers were doing this I could understand, but when a frontline agent does it, it just wastes time/resources.

    Just a few of the many reasons…

  6. I don’t think TSA does anything at SFO, yet you keep bashing the TSA for SFO experiences.

  7. There won’t be a law saying one way or another. The authorization likely includes a discretionary component. Requiring answers to questions (did you pack the bag yourself? has it been in your possession since you packed it?, etc.) are long-standing security measures (now conducted via computer). It’s the discretion that leads to the abuse of power. No judge is going to hold asking you to state your name is absolutely out of bounds. Facts and circumstances will likely support a finding that it’s a reasonable request that doesn’t impose an undue burden on the traveler.

  8. One of my biggest reasons with giving the name is in this country you have the right to remain silent. I’m not a lawyer, but I can’t believe it’s legal for TSA to insist that you say your last name. If I don’t have to speak when interacting with a police officer why should I have to when speaking to TSA who don’t have any police powers? Especially since TSA is just security theater anyway.

  9. @Kris,

    The one and only time I was flying from SFO last year, the TSA asked me to say my last name.

  10. Lucky, at times when I comment here I am somewhat facetious. However, your complaints about the TSA are truly naive and display the worst side of your personality. With regards to your reasons for opposing saying your name, are you a security expert? Do you have experience in this field? If not – how do you know it adds zero security and it a waste of time and resources? Is it such an invasion of privacy to say your name that it burdens you so?

    I pray for the safety of every person flying, and you are included in those prayers. Perhaps you were too young for the tragedy of 9/11 to truly sink in, but those of us who are older understood that life changed. It is a sad thought, but there are people who would attempt to blow up a plane or hijack it for reasons only they know.

    I would MUCH rather have a TSA that is perhaps slightly too invasive or burdensome to navigate than a TSA that is just slightly too lax.

  11. @lucky:

    a) True, but so what? Would your rather spell your name?

    b) OK, that’s fair.

    c) You don’t know that. They are many many things our govt. does to protect us that we don’t know about.

    d) That’s fair. The front line people didn’t decide to do that. It was decided upstairs. Let’s hope these people know better and there is a reason to ask for a name.

    Have you even been to Ben Gurion airport in Israel? You are asked questions about your family, if you know Hebrew – where did you learn it and more. Granted, these folks are professionals.

  12. @JP2 – You understand that you have the RIGHT to remain silent. You don’t have the RIGHT to board an airplane. You can remain silent as long as you want, just dont’ expect to get through airport security

  13. With respect, when you say “It adds no layer of security whatsoever” unless there is some aspect of your personal experience that you don’t share on the blog, you are supremely unqualified to make a statement on what adds or detracts from security.

    I am also not qualified to make such a statement. However, it’s clear that *someone * who does have experience in security has decided that this is a reasonable security measure. That doesn’t mean that person is correct, of course, but of all the people opining on the subject, he or she is the only person with the background to reasonably form an opinion.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not everyone is entitled to have their opinion taken seriously.

  14. On that note, what “right” does my bank has asking me to verbally verify my name, address, and mother’s maiden name every time I call them? I’m already calling from my billing telephone number, I already entered my darn 16-digit card number during the automated commands … so what gives!? I guess the list can go on, and on, and on. Seriously though, lucky, this is probably the most random blog post I’ve read from you.

  15. The obvious answer is to legally change your name to Ben Ochocinco so you can just say that.

  16. @7 Kris is correct. Security at SFO is not TSA. It’s a private company under contract with TSA. I much prefer TSA – at least I know what to expect. I’ve been through SFO when lines were backed up, with a lane closed, yet there were six of the clowns joking around in the corner of the screening area.

  17. I agree with Frank. Frankly – no pun intended – Lucky you have been very indirect in answering my questions about Discover and Mastercard. I would see you suspiciously as well.

  18. Frank, are you one of those parents those watches with a patriotic smile on his face as their child is groped in public? Just curious if you plan on living in fear for the rest of your life…

  19. The TSA checkpoint is a voluntary search and interrogation as I understand it. If you want through you have to submit.

    If you really don’t want to tell them, just say so and see what happens! And please be courteous enough to stage your civil liberties protest during a slow period so we won’t have to wait to be screened while the TSA figures this out.

  20. @Frank: There’s no doubt Lucky grasps the tragedy of 9/11. Your feeble attempt to support your argument by discrediting Lucky does more to damn you than him. Your constant gutless quivering is repulsive.

  21. Congress has delegated authority to TSA to write regulations, which are printed in the Code of Federal Regulations. Here is the applicable section:

    49 C.F.R. § 1540.107 Submission to screening and inspection.

    (a) No individual may enter a sterile area or board an aircraft without submitting to the screening and inspection of his or her person and accessible property in accordance with the procedures being applied to control access to that area or aircraft under this subchapter.

    (b) An individual must provide his or her full name, as defined in §1560.3 of this chapter, date of birth, and gender when—

    (1) The individual, or a person on the individual’s behalf, makes a reservation for a covered flight, as defined in §1560.3 of this chapter, or

    (2) The individual makes a request for authorization to enter a sterile area.

    (c) An individual may not enter a sterile area or board an aircraft if the individual does not present a verifying identity document as defined in §1560.3 of this chapter, when requested for purposes of watch list matching under §1560.105(c), unless otherwise authorized by TSA on a case-by-case basis.

  22. Not sure about the specifics,but I assume that failure to comply with a TSA’s officer’s reasonable request is probably enough to deny you access, and asking people to verify their name is clearly not going to be declared unconsitutional.

    I agree with Frank, though, in that you just seem like a jerk when dealing with the TSA. They’re just trying to do their jobs. If you’re getting the treatment at two different airports, it’s probably mandated for them. If you have a problem with the TSA, write to your Congresmen or the Dept. of Homeland Security. Giving TSAs a hard time is as ineffective as complaining to a cashier about high prices or punching a busboy because your steak wasn’t cooked right.

  23. I am a lawyer…there is a give and take with security checkpoints. There is no law saying you have to do it. But the TSA has the legal discretion to screen you. They have really wide latitude with what they can and can’t do. Questioning you is one thing they do.

  24. @JP2-the right to remain silent is the right against self-incrimination. Simply stating your name in and of itself is never going to be self-incrimination. Beyond that, flying is a privilege, not a right. And beyond even that, pretty much all of our constitutional rights can and will be set aside for national security in certain circumstances.
    And inasmuchas giving your name is self-incrimination, not verifying your name is a national security threat.

  25. @ Ann, flying is not a privilege as I understand it. A privilege is a favor that can be revoked at any time for any reason – like the King letting you hunt pheasant on his land. Are there conditions that need to be met before you can fly? Yes, but conditions are common for rights — e.g. the “right to vote” in many states is conditioned on you being a non-felon 18 or older. I get your point, but I think that saying that the government grants us the “privilege” cuts away at the fundamental principals on which the USA was founded.

  26. @CodeAdam10: Your bank does not have a right to ask you those questions. You give them authorization to do so per your banking terms and conditions. But, how is this relevant? It’s clear what value verifying information offers. It authenticates a transaction in a measurable manner. A negative response results in a decline.

    Lucky points out that without a BDO present, a TSO asking you to verify your name has no deterministic outcome. A negative or ambiguous response does not reliably result in an escalation and/or decline action. And, a TSO interpreting an unfamiliar name creates an element of volatility in detecting failed responses. So, if the purpose is behavior detection, it collapses without a BDO. And if the purpose is to verify information, an unacceptably exploitable amount of error exists. Of course, all of this assumes a nefarious individual is so ill-prepared that they haven’t become intimately familiar with the identity they are traveling under.

    At best, the process may discover the most stupid of terrorists and those who don’t speak English, or can’t speak, and at worst, it creates noise that distracts from actual security.

    Aviation safety is improved by ridiculing theater and celebrating actual security. Citizens of the US are paying a substantial amount of money for the TSA. Anyone who supports the betterment of the US will stop mindlessly going with the flow and instead demand that the government do better. And, that includes pointing out processes that have no clear positive argument for their cost and existence.

  27. I think this protest stuff is holding up the line. If you want to fly, move it along please. Believe it or not, YOU are NOT the only one who needs to get down to gate 998.

  28. @Ann: You wrote

    “Simply stating your name in and of itself is never going to be self-incrimination. … And inasmuchas giving your name is self-incrimination, not verifying your name is a national security threat.”

    You contradicted yourself. Was that intentional?

  29. You don’t actually have to say your name. You just have to say *a* name. At SFO, I tried saying my middle and last name (with the plausible explanation that that’s the name I go by). After that got no objections, I started just saying my middle name. After that, I started just making up random names. Not once have I been called on it or asked to say the name that’s on my driver’s license. I doubt they are even listening, they just want you to utter something. My question – what if you are deaf?

  30. @Cedarglen: A point to consider, but, in real-world practice, it doesn’t hold up the line for any significant duration. If you’re cutting it that close, you need to arrive earlier.

  31. @Gene, no Frank and JOSH aren’t the same person. JOSH was the ultimate fan-boy/stalker if I recall correctly. UNLESS Frank is an embittered version of Josh.

    It’s funny, I never thought I’d miss JOSH and then Frank came along and I’ve been thinking of JOSH a lot.

    We had a nice little run on non-crazies/non-haters on this site in 2011, but I guess all good things must come to an end. 🙂

  32. @Corey: And for those who don’t speak English or are mute, let’s ask another question. Do you want to fly today?

  33. It seems like a reasonable security check to me. Not sure what the fuss is about. I’d rather they did something like that than just zone out and let any character through. I used to fly through Newark before sept 2011. Security was an absolute joke. Look what happened.

  34. @Frank: your emotion affects your “argument”. I don’t see you use any facts to support. Your feeling based on the 9/11 event and toward the TSA policy don’t have much weight when making a sound decision.

    I used to work for the government and I know for a fact that all of these multi security layers are not effective as you think it should. the biggest weakness of any security system is human factor and as long as TSA doesn’t fix this, you will hear more guns pass through security

  35. Lucky, I’m not sure anyone here actually knows. I believe the procedures the TSA uses are, by regulation, defined in the SOP manual, which is not a public document. It was briefly leaked back in 2009, so you could take a look through that old version. But it may not be valid any more. It’s also true as @7 and @23 said that SFO is manned by a private contractor. It isn’t clear to what extent they operate under the TSA SOP or their own set of procedures.

  36. The relevant rule can be found at 49 CFR 1540.107 and 40 CFR 1560. It appears that providing written identification containing your name, date of birth and gender is sufficient to meet the requirements of the regulation.


    49 CFR § 1540.107 Submission to screening and inspection.

    (a) No individual may enter a sterile area or board an aircraft without submitting to the screening and inspection of his or her person and accessible property in accordance with the procedures being applied to control access to that area or aircraft under this subchapter.

    (b) An individual must provide his or her full name, as defined in §1560.3 of this chapter, date of birth, and gender when—

    (1) The individual, or a person on the individual’s behalf, makes a reservation for a covered flight, as defined in §1560.3 of this chapter, or

    (2) The individual makes a request for authorization to enter a sterile area.

    (c) An individual may not enter a sterile area or board an aircraft if the individual does not present a verifying identity document as defined in §1560.3 of this chapter, when requested for purposes of watch list matching under §1560.105(c), unless otherwise authorized by TSA on a case-by-case basis.

    [73 FR 64061, Oct. 28, 2008]

  37. @Simon I thought about that as I was posting it. Being punished for refusing to say your name doesn’t violate the right against self-incrimination in this instance. But not giving your name here probably isn’t really a security threat, either, and certainly not one that would justify constitutional rights being revoked under the typical justification of national security, which usually only happens in wartime.

  38. I hate this phenomenon almost more than any other TSA policy currently. For those posters here who believe that the concept of speaking your name out loud somehow increase security – please explain how? You can’t, because it doesn’t. It’s simply a penalty that poorly performing checkpoints have to go through to remind them to check names more closely. It’s absolutely backwards.

    In any case – I’ve only run into this a few times. I simply pronounce my firm name (Troy) as “T-Roy” and completely mangle my last name. Really annoys the TSA staff and makes me laugh, so its a win win.

  39. My read of the regulations are that TSA has exceptionally broad discretion to deny you access to a sterile area for failure to meet the procedures that they apply by custom at the secured area. The regulations, as noted, deny access to any person who fails to comply “with the systems, measures, or procedures being applied to control access to, or presence or movement in, such areas.”

    My read of this language is that so long as its a customary procedure “being utilized by TSA” in the area, they can deny you access. I read the rules as saying they can, essentially, make it up as they go along. As a matter of practice, they usually publish something when they issue a rule about procedures in sterile areas — such as the 3-1-1 rule. For example, TSA has issued procedures for denying entry for refusal to provide identification at all and refusing to cooperate.

    Some privacy groups believe that the 3-1-1 and airport ID requirements are not lawful because they are not specifically mentioned in the regs. Personally, though it’s not the answer I prefer, I tend to disagree and think the regulations were drafted exceptionally broadly to permit TSA to deny you access if you refuse to comply with their procedures, even if the procedures are not consistent and even if they are not in the regs specifically — like asking for your name. Sorry, I know this is not the answer that most desire.

    But regulations have the force and effect of law. Unless the policy violates some other source of law — for example, if they act in an unconstitutional manner or try to enact security procedures that violate the ADA — it’s the law.

  40. They don’t punish you for not saying your name, they just don’t have to give you the privilege of entering the sterile area. Look at Mark’s post with the exact text, in no uncertain terms it says that a passenger must provide name (among other things) to enter the sterile area.

  41. My MO is to provide the name, while pointing out that it is right there on the ID. All subsequent irrelevant questions get my response: I’d rather not say. I am never asked why I’d rather not say – they usually just move to the next question or sometimes engage me in a little staring contest. If they ask about my belongings I usually give an answer, as that might be remotely relevant to their raison d’etre. Being asked about the purpose and length of my visit – I would rather not answer.

  42. Boy, I really can’t remember the last time I was asked to actually say my name by TSA. Customs yes. I’ve been on over 50 flights already this year and not once have I been asked. Must be the way you look 😉

  43. It is important to point out one exception to the 4th Amendment…the border search exception. This is a big deal and the courts grant a good deal of latitude.

  44. Wow… there’s some hostility here against Lucky! I think it’s a legitimate question. I’d love to know how saying my name makes me safer. I get asked by the TSA or some contractor engaged by the TSA, at SFO about every two weeks in the Terminal 2 security line. They ask everyone else too. I answer, as it takes too long to argue it. But just like most else with the TSA, it doesn’t make me safer, but it gives the impression the government is doing something to make me safer.

  45. Shmulik (way back up at #16) — when Israeli security ask if you speak Hebrew and when/where you learned it, this is just a thinly veiled attempt at determining whether a passenger is Jewish. Plain and simple profiling, the underlying assumption being that Jewish persons pose less of a risk to aviation to and from Israel. Asking directly is illegal in some places and considered offensive in many others, hence the indirect approach.

    This makes for some interesting conversations with passengers whose answers to the standard set do not unambiguously reveal the desired information (e.g. an American who learned Hebrew in college, which is consistent with both a Jewish and non-Jewish profile). I know people whose standard response to “Do you speak Hebrew?” is “Yes, but I’m not Jewish” — cuts through some questions and makes the interview go faster…

    As for the assertion that “these folks are professionals”, well, I’ve encountered my share of newbie/trainee Israeli security personnel. The best thing about those is that they usually know to call for a supervisor rather quickly.

  46. I’d really like to see Ben (and Gary) take leadership roles as to TSA issues. By that I mean their presence and position could help the flying community if they engaged with the TSA in a positive, solutions-focused way. Why not a citizens advisory board which could focus on improving the experience by pointing out procedures and practices that seem to have little benefit, and also on improving the public’s understanding of what is going on and why?

    Playing word games with frontline employees and opting out of scans as a means of silent protest are cute and make good copy. I’d rather read about Improvements.

  47. To whoever tried to one-up me by saying they used to work for the government – you’re talking to an Army veteran here.

    As for the rest of you – here is what I propose. Tell me if you agree (though this would never happen so it is purely hypothetical). How about we have two airports per city – one with every TSA measure currently in place, and one where they adjusted their standards to meet Lucky’s complaints. Which one would you travel through?

  48. I travel every day from non TSA controlled airports all over the world that don’t use any of the security theatre that the TSA is deploying and I’m traveling safe through the skies. I would have no problem of flying from an airport that uses common sense standards.

    Entering an aircraft on FRA-VIE without showing my identification to either security or airline does not make my flight unsafe, in fact the only reason airlines did it since Schengen agreement was revenue control to ensure the ticketed passenger is flying. My suspicion is that this exactly what TSA is doing with their id check, ensuring the boarding pass matched the person traveling. Revenue control for the airlines not security.

    The TSA has unspecified rights because they can create their own secret processes because a lazy congress gave them carte blanche and oversight is lacking, just because common sense to security and privacy has gone. And worst questioning security the TSA now seems to be seen as unpatriotic.

    While there might be some bad apples with TSA which most of the time grab the headlines, the problems is not only their employees but with the TSA itself. Any government agency created out of fear, giving uncontrolled rights that not even a court can overrule (or see for that matter) is a monster that a civilized country should not have.

  49. “So does anyone know what the law actually is?”

    Funny how so many people missed that, and would rather straddle their high horse and comment their opinion about the TSA, does security work, is Lucky acting like a brat, due process and Miranda Rights (huh?), etc.

    According to Mark (post #47), it seems the TSA can prevent you from entering if you refuse to show an ID, but it doesn’t say anything about them being able to (legally) deny you entry should you refuse to say your name out loud. Then again, it might just be your luck that you end up with some idiot who wants to abuse his power and act like he has the biggest testicles in the world and prevent you from entering if you don’t say your name. But again, it doesn’t seem like there is anything the TSA can do, legally, if you don’t say your name out loud.

  50. I’ll just keep lying the next time Im asked.

    Im Danish, with a Danish passport, Danish drivers license, Danish credit cards – none of which actually contains my name. I changed my name when I got married – adding my wifes middle name. She changed her last name to mine. Danish law makes no requirement to get a new passport, drivers license or simmilar when changing your name, but airlines do require using the name on you ID (in my case passport) when purchasing tickets. So my name and the name on the boardingpass/passport will not match for the next 8½ years when my passport expires.

    On a different note, I would argue that traveling on a fake/stolen ID, and requiring you to state your name is a violation of your fifth amendment rights. Just a thought. Being Danish my knowledge about the fifht amendment is from CSI and Law and Order – so YMMV.

  51. All the TSA bashing on this blog does is to encourage more TSA bashing. Agree or disagree, enough already.

  52. The idea that one needs to be a behavorial expert to detect suspicious behavior is unsound. I don’t believe customs officers get the type of training that Israeli security staff get, yet they use behavioral based training.

    The idea is pretty simple, have them speak, see if they start acting funny. If you aren’t willing to say your name, what are you to say. Sure, it isn’t incredibly
    effective, but given the agent is there, the marginal cost is zero.

    Just curious, do you feel similarly about people asking you about the wine list as you do about TSA? I see your response to requests to show the wine list now has you showing a picture of the cover, but not the wine. Seems like the games you like to play with TSA.

  53. Guys, while you’re more than welcome to share your thoughts, I think some of you guys are a bit confused. I asked a question purely out of curiosity. I don’t argue with the TSA over this anymore because it’s just not worth my time. But surely I can be curious about what the rules really say without being called names, no?

    @ D — Awesome, exactly the info I was looking for. If I’m interpreting this correctly, it seems to suggest you don’t need to say your name, but only provide it. I’d say showing an agent a government issued ID would constitute “proving” your name.

  54. Just guessing, but I imagine they are asking pax to say their names to see if they “know” them. For example, if someone had difficulty pronouncing Lucky’s last name it would raise questions as to whether that was really “Lucky.” And if it isn’t Lucky, who is it and why do the have his ID?

  55. @Frank
    Since you asked- given those choices, I would travel through the latter any day of the week, no question, though I’d much prefer a third option, which would consist of privatized security screening selected and funded by the airlines serving the airport in question. I would rest assured that the organization running the screening had strong financial incentives to strike the optimal balance of security risk and inconvenience to travelers / personal privacy.

    As a side note, bin Laden et al couldn’t be happier seeing this country controlled by people with attitudes like Frank’s. The goal of terrorism is not simply to kill people, but to get in the heads of the people left surviving and cause (you guessed it) terror. The phrase “never let them see you sweat” couldn’t be more applicable than in the case of dealing with terrorists; unfortunately this country is collectively sweating bullets.

  56. Back OT- I’ve never said the name on my ID at a say-your-name station. Haven’t been stopped once.

  57. Lucky — I think you are not reading the regulation right. See post 50. It says you can be denied access to a sterile area if you fail to comply “with the systems, measures, or procedures being applied to control access to, or presence or movement in, such areas.”

    That the identification regulation does not specifically say they can tell you to say your name is a red herring. The sterile area regulation means TSA can be flexible with respect to their procedures and make new procedures on the fly. And that’s the spirit of the regulations as well. Many of the things that TSA does are not in the regulations themselves, but are set as a matter of internal policy. Sometimes, if they think they are going to be controversial, they publish them — like the 3-1-1 rule, but even that is not codified in the regulations themselves.

    If you think about it, this is what we would want if TSA were a legitimate non-silly organization. You want them to have flexibility to deal with specific threats without having to publish exactly what they are doing. But, for example, if DHS receives a threat about certain kinds of electronics, they could ask you turn them on or something else, without having to actually amend their regulations. Asking your name is no different.

    So the most accurate answer to your question is “no, TSA does not violate the law if they deny you access to a secure area for failing to say your name if that constitutes a “procedure being applied to control access” to that sterile area. And the “procedure” can even be to do it intermitently, or any time the picture looks, in the TSA’s judgment, perhaps not to be of the person before him or her.

    So, could they tell you to show them your underwear and deny you access if you refuse, or something else silly? Yes. If it’s part of a “policy applied” at that screening area. I know this is not the answer that people favor, and many privacy groups argued forcefully that my interpretation is wrong when body scanners were introduced. They had some modest success with respect to procedures under the Administrative Procedure Act, but these were only procedural victories and as should be clear from their current use, they were not ultimately successful.

  58. People get really heated up about this! I’ve gotten the impression from reading Lucky’s posts that he and I have different views on the TSA…but I don’t think posting a mean comment will change his mind.

    I’m a lawyer, but my field is tax law, so not an expert on this. But those regs from D look like they’re on point. If the term “provide” is not defined in the regs (I doubt it is), the court will define it broadly, with significant deference given to the interpretation of the agency that wrote the regs.

  59. Someone verbally asserting they are a person whom they are not when flying in the US has set themselves up for additional charges and/or a weaker legal defense in the event of being caught and pursued in a court for something related to flying under someone else’s name/ID.

    Remember that in this crazy post-9/11 world, the US government has to pretend to respond to every “threat”, real and imagined, including those “threats” hyped up in the press about a “foreign” “dark male” who flew lots of times using other people’s boarding passes.

    The name “Noibi” strike a bell? It should.

  60. Congress gave pretty broad authority to the TSA to enact rules and policies to promote airline safety. The “law” above was a regulation that the TSA created, not Congress itself, but it’s highly unlikely to be struck down by a court. Typically agencies are given deference to interpret Congress’s statute and make rules like that however they see fit so long as its a reasonable interpretation of the statute (and it doesn’t have to be the MOST reasonable, i.e. someone can always come up with a reason why asking your name would protect national security even if its not the best one) and so long as they didn’t adopt the regulation in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner. Basically that would mean that they didn’t consider all the research on the issue and explain why they chose that interpretation and I’m sure there was plenty of support for their position (arbitrary and capricious usually has to be something pretty severe like if the agency could either modify or rescind a regulation and they rescind without explaining why its better than just modify or if they ignore a comment made by an interested party when they post the rule for notice-and-comment before enacting it).

    You could theoretically challenge the constitutionality of the TSA regulations with a due process argument, but that wouldn’t be very likely to succeed either. Typically courts apply a balancing test weighing the harms to private interest with the government need and the risk of error. The government need here is national security and the private interest is maybe missing your flight for not getting access to the secure zone (maybe if you were imprisoned for a significant length of time or added to a No-Fly List, but the regulation only denies access to the secure zone). Almost all courts will see the government interest as higher and you would lose.

  61. And if the TSA says that not saying your name when asked is something that would justify denying you entry into the secure zone, then they can legally deny you entry into the secure zone.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t matter whether it’s a behavior modification technique or not. If the agency can make some remotely reasonable argument why such a regulation would protect national security, then all courts will give that regulation deference.

    I agree with the poster above who suggested that you visit Ben Gurion airport. I think it would be cool to see an El Al report (I think some of their 747’s are ex-SQ with the same F seats) and also you might see that the TSA isn’t THAT bad, or at least not as bad as it could be…

  62. Ianal but simply put, you are not required to state your name and cannot be denied entry to the secure area if you do and you are not interfering with the screening process-no matter what the TSA says.

    Simply show them a copy of this:

    CFR 1540.107

    (a) No individual may enter a sterile area or board an aircraft without submitting to the screening and inspection of his or her person and accessible property in accordance with the procedures being applied to control access to that area or aircraft under this section

    We do the above by presenting our I/D and BP

    And specifically noted in subsection b1 and c

    (b) An individual must provide his or her full name, as defined in § 1560.3 of this chapter, date of birth, and gender when

    (1) The individual, or a person on the individual’s behalf, makes a reservation for a covered flight, as defined in § 1560.3 of this chapter, or
    (2) The individual makes a request for authorization to enter a sterile area.

    We do the above by presenting our I/D and BP

    (c) An individual may not enter a sterile area or board an aircraft if the individual does not present a verifying identity document as defined in § 1560.3 of this chapter

    And CFR 1560.3 defines a “Verifying Identity Document as

    Verifying Identity Document means one of the following documents:
    (1) An unexpired passport issued by a foreign government.
    (2) An unexpired document issued by a U.S. Federal, State, or tribal government that includes the following information for the individual:
    (i) Full name.
    (ii) Date of birth.
    (iii) Photograph.

    So with all of that, there is nothing that says one is required to state their name however ymmv “depending on the TSO you encounter” 😉

  63. My friend from overseas, Igotta Bomminmypants, has been having a lot of trouble getting through TSA lately. 🙂

  64. Not only does the TSA at SFO ask for your first and last name, at the pre-screening podium, they also check your boarding pass twice, I walked 3 feet from the pre-screen podium and another TSA employee asked to see my boarding pass again, when I asked him why I was having to show it again, he copped an attitude with me. SFO is the worst airport I have ever flown from. I hate fying out of that airport, only because the TSA EMPLOYEES act like you shouldn’t ask them anything….I went through the scanner 2 weeks ago and a female TSA person reached over and touched my left arm, she didn’t ask me if she could touch me, she said,” Do you have anything under your sleeve, I had a thin summer blouse on and I said yeah bones and skin, she gave me a eat S*** look … I thought that was a stupid question to ask me. I think the majority of the people they hire couldn’t get another job….

  65. Stone, I’m with you. Just got back from a lovely break down in Carmel, Monterey. I had to fly home from SFO (home is PDX). The TSA there are like a mix between little schoolboy brats and wannabee army bullies, and they even failed at that with me. The one douche (I cannot keep my integrity and call them anything grand like ‘agent’) asked me to step over towards some scanning machine. And turn my back on all my property in the trays? Right. Soon I was surrounded by 3 of them, but I knew they were grasping when they told me to calm down. Needless to say, I was the calm one while they were over-reacting and holding an inquest over why I wouldn’t move. I’d had an experience in Chicago when a TSA man asked me to go to a scanning machine thing and I did so ultra-obediently like a sheepdog. When he said I was ok to go, I turned around to get my stuff out the trays and my cash had gone. He made a token effort to find out how and then shrugged and said I shouldn’t have taken my eyes off it or left it in the trays. So now in SFO, I’m applying the instruction to the letter and the lessons learned from that experience. One of the 3 amigos picks up one of the trays and offers to move it and the others over to a shelf where I will still see it while being scanned. Problem solved, except I didn’t give anyone permission to lift a tray containing my property and the attitude of the first douche had already done the damage. He yelled about 5 times don’t touch anything in the trays. Like I’m a child? Oh sorry, you’re the child and you think everyone else is like you. Tossers Society of America. SFO and Chicago – both like to yell a lot and come over all sergeant-major. TSA – how else were the Klan going to covertly spread their evil throughout the entire country?

  66. I have always refused to say my name when the TSA asks. First, the vocalization of my name in no way help to identify me to TSA (unless they are voice matching).

    The TSA just needs to confirm that the name on the ticket and the name on the photo ID is the same, and that my face bears a likeness to the photo on the ID. That’s all!!

    The agent will no doubt call a supervisor when you refuse to “speak on command”, but they will ultimately admit that there is no law that compels you to speak your name.

    I was told by a TSA Supervisor, that knowing the law and actually exercising my right to refuse “made me more suspicious” to the TSA and that “it would be easier on me” to just play along.

    Which means that they have based their procecedures on an assumption that the general public is ignorant and unaware of their rights.

    (If you don’t feel like talking, try using Sign Language to spell out your name. It is a recognized language, and the alphabet is easy to learn . . . it will drive the TSA completely NUTS!!)

  67. So get this, MY interpretation is

    1. When you get any form of identification at a United States governing agency, you are required to verify identity then and there, and according to @D’s post as long as you provide said identification, whether it be physically (drivers license, passport, etc.) or verbally (obviously spoken), there shouldn’t be any resistance or delay, unless you act unreasonably or defiantly. C’est la vie. Nuff said!

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