John Gilmore, one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
has refused to fly since 2002, when Oakland International Airport told him he must show ID in order to fly, but claimed the law requiring this is secret.
On July 4, 2002, John Gilmore went to Oakland International Airport. He had a ticket in his own name with Southwest Airlines to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The purpose of his trip was to petition the government for redress of grievances – specifically, the requirement for airline travelers to provide identification.
John politely refused to show his ID and was not allowed to fly.
John then went to San Francisco International Airport and attempted to fly to Washington, DC on United Airlines. There he was informed that if he was not willing to show ID he could fly, but only if he submitted to a far more intrusive search than what every passenger goes through at the security checkpoint.
He politely declined the search and again was not allowed to fly.
Showing ID. Intensive searches. What's going on here?
That's what John Gilmore wanted to know. At San Francisco's airport, just like the rest of the country's airports, there was a sign that began "A Notice From the Federal Aviation Administration" and includes the sentence "passengers must present identification upon initial check-in.
John worked his way up the bureaucratic chain and was eventually told by United Airlines that there were security directives that mandated the showing of ID, but that he couldn't see them. These secret directives, issued by the Transportation Security Administration, are revised as often as weekly, and are transmitted orally rather than in writing. To make things even more confusing, these orally transmitted secret rules change depending on the airport.
The image above-right is a modified version of a graphic on John Gilmore's home page.