Saturday, October 28, 2006

generating boarding passes

Poor Chris. He described how to make a fake boarding pass by twiddling the online-generated passes that are issued by NWA. There's nothing wrong with this -- he didn't actually use them, he just wrote a very simple piece of software that lets anyone generate a fake boarding pass.

Rep. Edward Markey (D- Massachusetts) called for Chris's arrest. Why? Did he do something wrong? This ability to create boarding passes out of thin air is not new! It has been known for years and was in fact pointed out by Sen. Schumer (D-NY) in Feb. 2005.

What the hell? Has it come to this: if someone looks suspicious, we arrest them and work out the details later? The FBI served him with a cease and desist.

They handed me with a written order to remove the boarding pass generator. By the time we were somewhere with internet access, the website had already been taken down.

Reality check: what Chris did was a trivial hack. Anyone who can write simple web application code can create this. Heck, you could make your own boarding pass easily without understanding code at all -- use a web page editor.

If Chris's liberties are violated in this fashion without repercussions, everyone who can edit online boarding passes should also be controlled. Everyone with a computer should get ready to line up to be monitored by the FBI.

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