Travelers wonder about Clear personal info.

June 23, 2009 6:42:14 PM PDT
The Clear registered traveler program that gave subscribers an exclusive line at airport security checkpoints has gone out of business. So what happens to all that personal information?

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The Clear kiosks were dark and unmanned at San Francisco International Airport Tuesday, one day after clear and its parent company, Verified Identity Pass, abruptly shutdown.

The Clear Web site stated it ceased operations 11 p.m. Monday and because of its financial condition, it cannot issue refunds.

About 250,000 customers paid between about $200 dollars annually to become a registered traveler. After submitting personal information, including iris scans and fingerprints to Clear, and being approved by the Transportation Security Administration, members could bypass security screening lines.

"I think it's pretty clear that this whole registered traveler concept is dead," travel consultant Edward Hasbrouck said.

Hasbrouck is the author of travel planning guide "The Practical Nomad" and he is a consultant with the Identity Project, which focuses on privacy and travel. He says there is now a big question whether all that personal data will become property of a creditor through bankruptcy.

"Unless there is some clear legal prohibition the bankruptcy court will be obligated to put that information on the auction block for the highest bidder," Hasbrouck said.

The TSA says it adopted strict privacy standards for Clear's parent company and VIP advised the TSA that they will continue to secure personal information and will take appropriate steps to delete their members' information contained on airport laptops, enrollment and verification kiosks.

"I'm as worried about that as every Internet purchase I've made the last few years," Clear member Ben Millrood said.

Millrood is not worried about his personal information and he will not miss Clear because he never used it.

Clear did not speak to the media Tuesday.

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