back to article Passenger cleared after TSA checkpoint stare-down

A Seattle man has been acquitted of all charges brought against him when he refused to show ID to TSA officials and videotaped the incident at an airport security checkpoint. Prosecutors' case against Phil Mocek was so weak that he was found not guilty without testifying or calling a single witness, the Papers, Please! blog …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3 cheers to the man!

    Excellent demonstration of why everyone should video all their interactions with official-dumb these days. What a bunch of numptys.

    There are a lot of cheap 'spy' cameras available these days .. built in to watches, pens and ipod shuffle lookilike mp3 players .. they work brilliantly .. although I guess the officious officials won't spot them so you won't get as much hassle to start with.

    1. PerfectBlue

      Wiretap laws

      Well, in a number of places (Mostly in California, I think), cops have charged people with wiretap violations for recording cops abusing their powers.

      In the UK they have also repeatedly detained people who try to photograph police badge numbers.

      1. Ayrshore


        Yes, they've threathened to arrest me for taking pictures in public places (and often not even of them), many times. Never actually done it though (of course).

        Nothing winds a copper up more than knowing his job better than him.

    2. patrick_bateman

      umm ooook..

      Yes officer that is a wire you can see coming out from my coat. Or, yes officer that is an electrical device you have found hidden on me and not its not my phone.

      One sure way to get your flight ontime without increasing hassle...not

  2. Robert E A Harvey

    Good man

    There are signs up prohibiting photography at uk passport control. What's the validity of those?

    1. irish donkey

      Would love to know the answer to this

      Security guards in this country (UK) are such pricks!

      1. Matthew Robinson


        If it's private land so they can decide. If the TSA had a sign up they'd be able to switch his camera off too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down

          The TSA...

          There are signs up in the airport in question stating that photography is not permitted.

          The jury decided that they were incorrect. Putting up a sign does not make it illegal and photography in the publicly accessible areas of the airport is perfectly legal with some specific provisos regarding the photography of security scans etc...

          The airport is public property so they must abide by the local laws, not on any cock and bull story that the TSA wonks make up to suit their own prejudices and ego.

          1. Bill B

            Airport public property?

            Different in the US then.

            In the UK the airports are owned by private companies (e.g BAA) who then allow the public on their property for the purposes of business.

            We've already had incidents in the UK where people were photographing the chaos at airports over winter and were asked not to. I think it was established that the airport was within its rights to do this unfortunately. *They* can say what goes on on *their* land.

            Bit surprised to find that that airports in the US are public property.

            1. Anonymous Coward

              No No No......

              Signs mean NOTHING on private property. In public places they must adhere to set standards and follow set procedures.

              Otherwise you could stick up a sign saying "All fit girls must strip upon request" and it would be "LAW".

              Same as the "We accept no repsonsibilty for loss" signs. They mean nothing.

              1. ThomH Silver badge

                @No No No......

                There's an exception to this; per the relevant Occupiers' Liability Act, signs on private property that direct you as to the required behaviour in order to be safe absolve the owner of liability if a person ignores the signs and is injured as a result. Though they have to give you actual, workable instructions (like "keep all limbs within the vehicle") rather than just warning you about a danger (like "bridge unsafe" without a safe bridge or other crossing being available).

            2. Blake St. Claire

              By, for, and of the people

              > Bit surprised to find that that airports in the US are public property.

              Boston's airport is owned by the Massachusetts Port Authority (MASSPORT), a state owned private corporation.

              I expect most other major US airports are similar.

              IANAL. I don't know that it's "public" property like the square in front of city hall or the various parks, but my tax dollars are paying to build, maintain, and expand it; in a sense it's as much mine as it is everyone else's.

              1. Adrian Midgley 1

                in what is not publicly owned

                "a state owned private corporation."

                State=public, no?

        2. Lee Dowling Silver badge


          It's private land, so they can *eject* but even the UK police can't seize films / destroy photos / remove your property without going through an awful lot of paperwork (if at all). Hell, be too rough when ejecting them or damage that property even in a minor way and you'll be before the court, not them. The police can't even ask YOU to delete the images, technically.

          I can put up "No filming" signs in my street. Poke the camera into my house and you have a privacy violation and I can call the police who may well arrest you (sign or not) but I can't take that equipment from you (necessarily). Film unobtrusively and without invading my privacy and neither I nor the Police can do anything without arresting you first (and then you have to prove they did something illegal, like here, which is very difficult).

          If I own a nightclub, with a "no-filming" rule, I can ask you to leave if you film. I can call the police if you've been filming up girl's skirts. But *I*, nor anyone but the police, can legally seize your camera or make you delete the photos except in order to detain you until the police arrive (and if you *haven't* technically committed a crime, that could be seen as unlawful imprisonment).

          Basically, nobody is allowed to touch someone else's personal property (or person, technically) except in the process of arrest (possibly "citizen's arrest") on suspicion of a crime. You can't just put a sign up and make your own private laws. You can eject, if you do it within the agreed legal parameters. You can ask for them to be arrested. If it's serious enough, you can "arrest" them and call the police who will probably end up having to let them go anyway.

          But you *can't* seize their camera, make them switch it off, switch it off for them or get them to delete photos. You can only refuse entry to people with cameras and / or eject people from the property if they use cameras against your "rules". In this case, the airport was classed as public property and, as long as there wasn't a *genuine* security reason, the airport was deemed wrong in demanding that they guy turn off the camera. It's also *NOT* illegal to film your child's school play, no matter who's in the photo, but you *could* be ejected from the school (there is a quote from a senior ministry about stopping such "nonsense rumours" going around - it's not illegal, it's just a per-school rule that makes people THINK it is illegal). It's not even illegal to film in a public street whether you ask people's permission or not. But it's considered polite.

          The law is surprisingly liberal in this area. Whenever someone comes to you claiming 1984 is occurring, have a look at what a private citizen is *allowed* to do. You might still be harassed by police but the last few times they got the law wrong on the street, photographers held a protest in London and the police chief had to send around "guidance" to police officers across the country.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Where a person's life may be put at jeopardy then they can confiscate your recording equipment and under court order delete your recording material for reasons I've said in another post.

            Also Immigrations/Passport Control in UK airports is on private land and not in a public area.

          2. Alan Firminger


            If an authority decrees no filming can you deploy a camera without recording?

          3. PerfectBlue

            yes ... but ....

            Most people don't know this, and they hand over their memory cards\delete images believing that they have no choice but to comply.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Robert E A Harvey

      Totally legit in the UK as it's private land and they've posted notice. Also this is one zone where you photos/video can be legally confiscated/destroyed as immigration officers do go under cover and on raids (with Police who do the actual arrests) and so recordings of their faces could put them in danger.

      Reason I know this and have also posted anonymous - no it's not me but a very good friend of mine went from being an Immigrations Officer at Heathrow to joining the monitoring and raid squads (which mainly went in to brothels and ethnic restaurants).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down


        The same squads that are on British TV all the time going into restaurants and safe houses?

    3. Andy Hards
      Thumb Up

      I'm preeeeetty sure

      That in the UK as they are privately owned lpaces it's up to the owners and just like anywhere in the UK you can ask someone to leave. Yuo don't have to have them in your airport if you don't want them there. During the recent snow chaos there were reports of some people being told not to film on threat of being kicked out into the cold rather than the nice warm floors of the airport but the mgt then backtracked and said it wasn't a problem. I think it's just in certain areas though.

    4. Ayrshore


      Perfectly valid. You're not in a public place.

    5. g e

      Probably not valid but...

      You can expect to miss your flight while arguing you're correct, giving Them the smug satisfaction of another private citizen well-fucked-off

  3. bubba-bear

    Site with good analysis of this event and the trial

    1. Anomalous Cowturd

      Thanks Bubba-Bear...

      That was an informative view, and read. Have a pint on me.

      And on a side note, again, I was told by a UK Immigration Officer, whilst helping in the building of their shiny, new, loadsamoney, eco-friendly, green roof (imported from Holland), grey water re-cycling, solar water heated, PIR switched, architectural award winning, Folkestone office, (Fuck knows how much it cost), that you DON'T need a passport to travel within the EEA "IF" you are a legally resident citizen of said, and as long as you have Government issued photo ID (E.g. Photo driving licence etc.)

      Would any EEA or UK bureau-type care to comment... Before I book this years holiday to the Vendee for me and the sprog... Could save eighty odd quid on a new passport...

      Or maybe I'll just go to North Wales to show her some big pointy hills (with clouds/fog) and some rain.... Or is that exactly how they want us to think??? Fuck! FUCK! Hoist by my own petard...

      Interested of South East Kent...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: photo ID

        I don't know about the rest of the EU, but here in The Netherlands a photo driving licence is NOT accepted as a means of ID. You need a national ID card, or a passport.

        1. Nev Silver badge

          Yup, driving licence is not an officially accepted piece of ID...

          ... in France either.

          (Something to do with it not being compulsory to keep the address up-to-date....)

      2. Tim Spence

        @Anomalous Cowturd

        I'm speaking with great authority here (avid watcher of Airport, Airline, etc), and legally I believe you are correct, but I think the issue comes with what the individual airline's rules are - some may allow you on with just a drivers license, for example, but some may require a passport.

        You may argue that the law says you only need official photo-ID, but the fact is it's their airline, and if their rules require a passport, you won't be granted permission to fly on their airline.

        Wow, can't believe I just stuck up for the corporation. Okay, scrap that, f$&k the airlines!

      3. Steve Brammer

        Schengen agreement

        I think this is only true for EEA member states that have adopted the Schengen Agreement...


        Which the UK has not. What you say is completely true if travelling from, for example, Sweden to Spain. But travelling from the UK to anywhere or from anywhere to the UK requires a valid passport as I understand it.

      4. Number6


        The travel may be true within the Schengen area, but the UK is outside that so you'd need your passport to get to France but once there, you should be able to travel more freely. However, I know someone who went from Germany to Holland and got stranded because the Germans wouldn't let her back in without her passport.

      5. Anton Ivanov

        Depends on country

        All countries allow national ID if there is one. Some countries (Italy if memory serves me right) allow anything up to and including a fishing license though some airlines do not like the idea (Ryanair).

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thanks Bubba-Bear

        You don't need a passport.

        On my way out of the UK the check-in girl wouldn't accept my passport because it was falling to pieces but I was able to use a Spanish ID card. Not sure how it would work now that your ID has to match the details already provided. Which raises another point, even if a driving licence can be used it may not be possible to pre-register it with the airline and I doubt they would change their application just for you.

        Can't be any more helpful because I stopped travelling by air long ago as the experience became just too much hassle.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        EU is your friend...

        See here

        and here

      8. rjf


        you can fly within Schengen area with just an ID but not the EEA (PS UK is outside schengen). I've seen on ryanair a lot of italians who fly with their national ID and not their passports

        cameras are only banned in UK airports at the point of the immigration officers but i've not really seen them enforce it. They also ban phones. I suspect it's more for politeness and efficiency than anything

        If you examine the way airports work.. you need valid ticket to enter airside, security does not check your ID/passport at that point but airlines in the EU seem to have final responsibility for confirming that the person named on the ticket is the person flying on the ticket.

        I hate security actions that are just for looks - eg the banning of liquids onto the plane. there's been no successful recombination liquid bombs on aircraft.

        1. Ben Bawden


          "I hate security actions that are just for looks - eg the banning of liquids onto the plane. there's been no successful recombination liquid bombs on aircraft."

          + lots.

          A piece of elaborate theatre to make it look like they are doing something effective, and to keep is vaguely frightened.

          See also sending the tanks to Heathrow.

          1. BongoJoe

            I always wondered

            ...what the point of that was.

            "See also sending the tanks to Heathrow."

            I can't really imagine a Challenger crashing through Terminal Two's Duty Free in chase of a suspected terrorist without causing a few quids worth of damage.

            As for those very large shell things; lobbing them around an airport with big shiny planes, smooth runways seems a trifle daft to me.

            Then again, I have had the priviledge of running a country so I simply have to rely on common sense.

            1. nematoad Silver badge

              Think that they were Scimitars

              The "tanks" that were referred to were, to the best of my recollection Scimitar Light Tanks, not Challenger Main Battle Tanks. Still it WAS a very silly stunt as I cannot think of any way they could have prevented a hijacking or whatever. Except to try and shoot the plane up which sort of destroys the puported "security" reasons given.

        2. John Stirling


          Ah then since there have been no liquid recombination bombs then clearly the 'no liquids' rule isn't just for looks. I have elephant repellers in my garden, and indeed have not seen an elephant since I started using them - clearly they work.

      9. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I am an EEA country citizen and have been flying in at out of the UK with my ID card only with no problem whatsoever. Mind you, ID card is not a Driving licence.

        Too bad you guys in the UK scrapped your ID card scheme. It is so much easier to just have your ID in your wallet next to your credit cards and not have to go through the awkward shit-have-I-forgotten-my-passport-again experience.

        That said some EEA contries have gotten a step further - their ID cards have a chip that enables them to be used both as credit cards and store their X509 cert for online authentication... way to go there

        1. Ben Bawden

          ID cards

          Can work in some countries - liberal ones. But the proposed UK ones were the wrong solution for the wrong problem.

          They were talking about using the ID card to hold tons of information on you, and then make accessing public services conditional on that card.

        2. Da Weezil


          "Too bad you guys in the UK scrapped your ID card scheme. It is so much easier to just have your ID in your wallet next to your credit cards and not have to go through the awkward shit-have-I-forgotten-my-passport-again experience."

          Sure we will all happily fork out for ID to help out a few traveling airheads who cant remember to take the documentation needed for their journey! Make no mistake.. the ID scheme was going to creep to a compulsory scheme with the added tax of regular photo updates every few years like the photo licence.. (anyone care to tell me why an updated plastic card with a photo costs almost 20 quid?.)

        3. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

          No need for an ID card

          What we do need is a plastic card version of the passport - simple enough to issue one at the same time as a regular passport.

          No new database, no data creep, no problem.

      10. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

        On a practical note.

        (as you're in south-east Kent this mught be of use)

        Two mates I was travelling with forgot their (UK) passports on a day-trip to France on the tunnel last month. We went anyway and getting in to France they didn't even look. On the way back, we were pulled over and had to wait while their passports were checked on the computer. Delayed us about 20 minutes.

      11. Dapprman

        @ AC 04:54

        He was correct, but as the scheme has been scrapped you won't be able to use the National ID card much longer.

        In theory you only actually need the ID to get in to the UK from another EU country, you don't need it going out, however the photo drivers licence does not count. Please also note that while this all works if you're using a ferry, airline checks may require some form of ID on going out.

      12. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Anomolous Cowturd: RE: travel documents

        I have flown from East Midlands to Glasgow on a UK photo drivers license. There was no problem at all in using it for ID.

        I have never tried to fly abroad with one though.

      13. Andy Hards

        I'm cabin crew

        and most Europeans (not Brits) only use their id cards for travelling about the EU. You can do the same with your UK driving licence as long as it's only round the EU but we're indocrinicatuled to always take our passports.

      14. JohnG Silver badge

        Driving license as ID

        Taken from

        "Please note that the only valid ID is the one delivered by national authorities. Driving licences, post, bank or tax cards are not accepted as valid travel documents or proof of identity."

        However, the UK does accept a photocard driving license as valid ID for the purposes of entering the country as a British citizen (because you have to provide a valid passport to get one and the photocard driving license shows your citizenship). I actually did this once when I found I had left my passport at home when I turned up at Frankfurt airport. On return to Germany, I used my German residency permit to gain entry (not possible now as the Germans don't issue them to EU citizens any more).

        1. Anonymous Coward


          JohnG, you said: "UK does accept a photocard driving license as valid ID for the purposes of entering the country as a British citizen (because you have to provide a valid passport to get one and the photocard driving license shows your citizenship)"

          I don't know what sort of driving licence you've got but it's not true on mine. I am a British citizen, but was born in Canada. My driving licence only lists 'Canada' as my place of birth, but nowhere does it mention that I am a British citizen. I also applied for it before I had British citizenship, I was on a work permit at the time.

          How can UKBA know that I am a British citizen with my driving licence? Maybe I am a resident or something (in that case, I would be subject to UK and EU immigration controls when travelling).

      15. peter 45

        Not official policy....but

        you jut try getting onto a ferry with just photo ID and I can guarantee you will not be allowed on board. I have tried with a government issued photo ID card, and got given the 'you must show me a passport or you are not getting on theis Ferry'.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not official policy....but

          I have, more than once in recent years, and you can.


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