Fake Boarding Pass Generator guy and FBI: what about the law?

Christopher Soghoian's stated intent with the "Boarding Pass Generator" website was to illustrate a well-documented airline security weakness that airlines and government failed to address — not to commit fraud or help terrorists. IANAL, but people who are lawyers are no doubt examining the laws that may apply to his case, now that he has been visited by FBI agents bearing a search warrant, his computer and other belongings seized.

A number of legal areas may be at issue. Here's one. If I'm reading the current Homeland Security Code of Federal Regulations accurately, it would appear that even scrawling the words "boarding pass" on a cocktail napkin in lipstick and calling it a boarding pass could be cause for an unsolicited late-night visit, though intent is key. This section of federal law addresses the forging of airline tickets or boarding documents —

DHS Code Title 49, Volume 8; October 1, 2004 rev. [Page 302]:




Subpart B_Responsibilities of Passengers and Other Individuals and

Sec. 1540.103 Fraud and intentional falsification of records.

No person may make, or cause to be made, any of the following:

(a) Any fraudulent or intentionally false statement in any
application for any security program, access medium, or identification
medium, or any amendment thereto, under this subchapter.

(b) Any fraudulent or intentionally false entry in any record or
report that is kept, made, or used to show compliance with this
subchapter, or exercise any privileges under this subchapter.

(c) Any reproduction or alteration, for fraudulent purpose, of any
report, record, security program, access medium, or identification
medium issued under this subchapter.



* FBI returns to "Fake Boarding Pass" guy's home, seizes computers (10-28-06)
* Fake boarding pass guy reports he was visited by FBI (10-27-06)

* Congressman wants fake boarding pass guy arrested (10-27-06)

* Website generates fake boarding passes (10-26-06)
* Slate's Andy Bowers on airline security loopholes (02-07-05)

(Thanks, 53(uri7y r3534r(|-|3r!)

Reader comments: Wil Wheaton says,

Doesn't it seem like the FBI is coming down on this guy with all the
power of a fully-operational space station to make an example of him,
and thereby silence anyone else who may get some crazy ideas like
speaking freely about how ineffective the Department of Homeland
Security is?

I wish the government spent 1/10 the effort tracking down really bad
guys as they spend going after American citizens who use their
constitutional rights.

This shit (and the martial law thing) are the scariest things I've read
this Halloween season.

Nicholas Weaver says,

The boarding pass requirement at screening is primarily just to reduce the load on the security screeners: it keep others (such as friends/relatives waiting at the gate) from taking up the time of security screening.

The one problem is that the boarding passes are ALSO used to say "This person should have secondary screening". That the vulnerability, just reprint without the "SSSS", has been widely known since 2001, just suggests how little those in the TSA really believe secondary screening matters, especially since those who would get the secondary screening KNOW IN ADVANCE they will be screened.

The secondary screening is security theater, not real security anyway, so an easy way to bypass it isn't a real security risk!

Chris Warth says,

Hmm, maybe the FBI will start playing whack-a-mole with all these
sites. You can print a Delta boarding pass at this site: