May 06 2024

Facial recognition and “identity verification”

A new effort is being made by some Senators to restrict the use of facial recognition by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), airlines, and airports in the US.

But the proposed cure may be worse than the disease. The latest version of the proposed legislation, while undoubtedly well intentioned, includes a provision that would, for the first time, provide a basis in Federal law for “identity verification” of airline passengers.

The problem with facial recognition is that it’s a tool for identifying people. Legalizing (unjustified and previously unlawful) demands for travelers to identify ourselves in other ways is not a solution to the problems of either facial recognition or ID demands.

S. 3361, the “Travel Privacy Protection Act of 2023”, was introduced in the Senate in November 2023, and remains pending. But standalone bills like this have very little chance of being considered, especially in the current Congress.

With Congress acting on only a few bills that are considered essential to keep the  government operating, other legislation is likely to be acted on only if it can be attached to one of these “must-pass” bills. So some of the sponsors of S. 3361 have incorporated provisions to restrict the use of facial recognition, plus new provisions for alternative means of “identity verification” of travelers, into an amendment to the pending  bill to authorize continued operations of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

We assume that the new “identity verification” provisions in the proposed amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill were added to the previous version of the legislation to address objections from the TSA, the airline industry, and airport operators, all of whom have invested heavily in shared infrastructure for facial recognition at airports on the assumption that it has already been agreed to as a government and industry standard.

The proposed amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill would explicitly authorize the use of facial recognition at US airports, provided that the TSA “provides each protected individual, at the request of the protected individual, with the option to choose between identity verification with or without facial recognition or facial matching software.”

This would be a major change, since no provision of current law authorizes the TSA to operate, or to require travelers to submit to, any sort of ID verification.

Congress should not be intimidated by the threat of facial recognition into authorizing the TSA, airlines, or airport operators to  require travelers to identify ourselves.

A choice between submitting to facial recognition so that we can be identified, and showing documents so that we can be identified, is not a choice we should have to make.

Regardless of how we are identified, we know how our identity will be used by the TSA and its commercial and governmental partners in the US and around the world.

The TSA will check our identity against the million and a half mostly Muslim names on the TSA’s no-fly blacklist, use our identity as one of the inputs to the algorithmic black box they use to decide whether to send the airline a Boarding Press Printing Result (BPPR) that “permits” the airline to issue a boarding pass for each of our flights, and use it to link its record of our flight to the permanent file it keeps about each of us. None of this is lawful or serves any legitimate purpose. Congress should put a stop to all of this.

The TSA offers the misleading reassurance that unless we are determined to pose a threat, it won’t retain facial images and other information about our travel. But since the threat-assessment algorithms and outcomes are secret, there’s no way to know whether information about us and any particular flight we take has been retained.

Compelled warrantless, suspicionless ID requirements violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution and international treaties protecting the right to freedom of movement both internationally and within the US.

If Congress wants to rein in the TSA and its use of facial recognition, Congress can and should explicitly prohibit the TSA from requiring travelers to identify ourselves, regardless of whether that identity verification is conducted by inspection of ID documents, facial recognition, or other means. Unless our right to travel has been restricted by court order, who we are is irrelevant to our right to travel by common carrier.

Apr 23 2024

10th Circuit: Demand for ID requires suspicion of a crime

Narrowing the damage done by its 2015 ruling in the Identity Project case of Mocek v. Albuquerque, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that it is clearly established law that, even in a state such as New Mexico that requires individuals suspected of crimes to identify themselves to police on demand, a valid demand for ID must be predicated on “reasonable suspicion” that an individual has committed some other predicate crime.

The plaintiff in the latest 10th Circuit case, Albert Jerome Bustillos, is an independent journalist and YouTuber. He was wrongly arrested for video and audio recording from a public street outside an oil refinery in Artesia, NM, on September 11, 2018.

Like Mr. Mocek, who was falsely arrested for recording TSA checkpoint staff at the Albuquerque airport, Mr. Bustillos was wrongly charged under a New Mexico law that makes it a crime to “conceal” your identity if you are lawfully stopped by police.

The Supreme Court has — wrongly, we believe — upheld state laws that require individuals to identify themselves verbally by name to police, but only if police already have an objectively reasonable, articulable basis to suspect them of some specific crime.

We think these laws are facially unconstitutional because they violate the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. If you aren’t lawfully detained by police on reasonable suspicion of having committed a crime, you can (and generally should) entirely ignore any questions from police. If you are suspected of a crime, that is all the more reason why you can (and generally should) assert your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

Not all states have “stop and identify” laws. California, among others, does not. Even in states that have such laws, they require only verbal self-identification. They do not require anyone to possess, carry, or show ID credentials or any other evidence of their identity.

All of this is, we think, clearly established Constitutional law. But courts more eager to protect police against accountability than to protect the rights of their victims have sometimes strained, after the fact, to come up with reasons that police might reasonably have suspected those they stop of crimes — even if in fact the police had no such suspicion.

Like Mr. Mocek, Mr. Bustillos was eventually found not guilty of all of the charges against him, and like Mr. Mocek he then sued the police for violating his civil rights.

Read More

Mar 25 2024

City ID and the right to travel

In recent overviews, we’ve discussed the barriers to getting a passport or state-issued driver’s license or ID card (especially in states that have chosen to participate in the national REAL-ID system and database) and the difficulties faced by travelers without ID.

Some cities, notably including New York and San Francisco, have attempted to mitigate the discrimination against their residents who are unable to get Federal or state ID by issuing municipal ID cards.

How useful are these city IDs for travelers without other ID? Do they solve the problem of demands by common carriers for ID to travel by bus, train, or plane?

The short answer is that these city ID cards succeed in mitigating the damage that results from demands for ID to travel, but they aren’t a real solution to the problem.

Here’s what happens if you want to travel with a city ID: Read More

Mar 20 2024

It’s not a crime not to show ID

In September of 2023, in a case that originated in Huntsville, Alabama, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “It was… clearly established at the time of Mr. Edgar’s arrest that [a police officer] could not demand he produce physical identification. And because Officer McCabe’s demands for an ‘ID’ or a ‘driver’s license’ went beyond what the statute and state law required of Mr. Edger, she violated clearly established law. Under this set of facts and these precedents, no reasonable officer could have believed there was probable cause to arrest Mr. Edger for obstructing governmental operations by violating [Alabama Code]  § 15-5-30.”

Apparently, the police in Andalusia, Alabama didn’t understand this already clearly-established state and Federal law, and didn’t get any training about this decision.

On February 23, 2024, a police officer in Andalusia arrested Ms. Twyla Stallworth in the doorway of her own house for declining to show ID and (correctly) telling the officer that she wasn’t required to show ID, least of all in her own home. “Provide ID or go to jail,” arresting officer John G. Barton of the Andalusia Police told Ms. Stallworth.

Toward the end of this cellphone video recorded by Ms. Stallworth’s son, Officer Barton specifically cites Alabama Code § 15-5-30 — the law the 11th Circuit found was already clearly established not to require showing ID or to provide a basis for such an arrest — as his basis for arresting Ms. Stallworth.

Officer Barton took Ms. Barton away in handcuffs even after he read the text of this law to her son, who pointed out to the officer (correctly, and as the 11th Circuit had recently found was already well established) that the law does not require anyone to show ID.

The charges against Ms. Stallworth were dismissed, and after she got a lawyer the Mayor of Andalusia publicly apologized to her. The Mayor described the arrest as a “mistake”, said that Officer Barton “has been disciplined” in an unspecified manner, and promised that “the entire [Andalusia Police] department will receive additional training on Constitutional law, the laws of the State of Alabama, and the City of Andalusia’s ordinances.”

One lesson of this incident, of course, is of the importance of recording the police. We doubt Ms. Stallworth would have gotten an apology without video of what happened.

But as it relates to demands for ID, here’s the takeaway:

The law is clear: Stating your name is not the same as showing ID.

There are some states in which state law requires you to (verbally) identify yourself to a police officer (who has identified themself as a police officer), by stating your name, if and only if there is probable cause to suspect you of some other crime. There are some activities such as driving a motor vehicle that require a license.

There is no US state in which — as a pedestrian, a passenger in a car driven by someone else, or in your own home — you are required to have, carry, or show ID, even if you are stopped and questioned and there is probable cause to suspect you of some other crime.

If police ask to see your ID, and you aren’t driving or doing something else that requires a specific license, you have the right to just say “No”. 

Mar 18 2024

Buses, trains, and US domestic travel without ID

In our previous article, we looked at the state of ID requirements and the the right to international travel for U.S. citizens.

What about domestic travel within the USA without ID?

Flying? Domestic US airline passengers are subject to demands for ID by airlines and the TSA. These demands are of dubious validity, and have arbitrary secret exceptions. Many people fly without ID every day. But not everyone is able or willing to challenge these authoritative-seeming demands for ID to fly.

Driving? States that choose to participate in the national REAL-ID system are making it harder and harder to get driver’s licenses or state IDs. It’s easier for a US citizen to get a passport or passport card than to get a driver’s license in some states. But you can’t legally drive in the US without a driver’s license issued by a state, US territory, or foreign government.

Unless you walk, ride a horse or bicycle, or get a ride in a car driven by someone else, that leaves buses and trains as the primary modes of long-distance travel for people in the U.S. without ID.

Can you take a long-distance bus or train in the US without ID? And if not, what could or should be done to guarantee that right? Read More

Mar 08 2024

US passports and freedom of international travel

As we mark twenty years since the creation of this website for the Identity Project, perhaps it’s time to assess the state of freedom of movement in the USA and for US citizens.

We’ve been reporting, in more detail than anyone else, on changes in policies and practices that affect our right to travel freely. But sometimes the big picture can get lost in the details. Incremental changes can be more significant, in the long term and in the aggregate, than might be apparent  if we focus on any single step along the way.

Travel is restricted by (1) requirements to have, carry, and show ID to cross international borders or travel by common carrier; (2) restrictions on issuance of passports, driver’s, licenses, and state IDs used or needed for travel; and (3) ID-linked blacklists and controls that allow travel only by government permission and restrict who is given permission to travel.

These mechanisms for control of movement operate differently for international travel than they do for movement within the USA.

Let’s look first at U.S. passports and international travel. (We’ll look at domestic travel within the U.S without ID, or without Federally-approved ID, in later articles.)

Can a US citizen travel internationally without a passport? Do they have a right to a passport — and if not, which US citizens can and can’t get a US passport? What is the legal basis for these restrictions, or what would be the legal basis for challenging them?

Read More

Jan 23 2024

IDs and mug shots now required from all corporate principals

This month the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) division of the Department of the Treasury began collecting copies of passports, drivers licenses, and other ID documents submitted by officers and owners of all sorts of companies.

In  other words, you now have to have a government-issued ID and provide an image of it, probably including your photo, to the Federal government in order to establish, serve as an executive of, or hold a major interest in almost any type of corporation, LLC, partnership, trust, etc. (with some odd and irrational exceptions).

Read More

Nov 13 2023

Advance Travel Authorization (ATA) and the “CBP One” app

 

As we’ve discussed before in this blog, and as other human rights advocates have noted, asylum requires traveling to a border. Since you can only apply for asylum after you arrive in a country of refuge, freedom to travel from a place where you are subject to persecution to a country of refuge is a prerequisite for asylum.

But as we have also noted, including in comments earlier this year to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning the rights of migrants, governments including the US government have steadily increased their efforts to undermine the right to asylum by preventing  asylum seekers from traveling to their borders.

The latest step in this direction is the Advance Travel Authorization (ATA) system operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Under this program, asylum seekers can request permission through the CBP One mobile app to travel to the US. CBP is already operating this system under a temporary “emergency” authorization from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), but is seeking OMB approval to make it permanent.

As we explain in comments we submitted today to CBP:

Because the US has no jurisdiction and CBP has no statutory authority over travel by non-US citizens within or between other countries or their departure from other countries, and because whether or not a non-US citizen has requested or been granted “permission” from CBP has no bearing on their right to leave any other country or to travel within or between other countries by common carrier or otherwise, this collection of information is of no practical utility for any lawful activity of CBP or any US agency.

Do asylum seekers need permission from the US government to leave other countries where they are being persecuted, or to travel to the US?

No, they do not, as we explain in our comments to CBP: Read More

Oct 16 2023

The TSA wants to put a government tracking app on your smartphone

Today the Identity Project submitted our comments to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on the TSA’s proposed rules for “mobile driver’s licenses”.

The term “mobile driver’s license” is highly misleading. The model Electronic Credential Act drafted by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) to authorize the issuance of these digital credentials and installation (“provisioning”) of government-provided identification and tracking apps on individual’s smartphones provides that, “The Electronic Credential Holder shall be required to have their Physical Credential on their person while operating a motor vehicle.”

So the purpose of “mobile driver’s licenses” isn’t actually licensing of motor vehicle operators, as one might naively assume from the name. Rather, the purpose of the “mobile drivers license” scheme is to create a national digital ID, according to standards controlled by the TSA, AAMVA, and other private parties, to be issued by state motor vehicle agencies but intended for use as an all-purpose government identifier linked to a smartphone and used for purposes unrelated to motor vehicles.

We’ve seen the ways that government-mandated tracking apps on citizens’ smartphones are used by the government of China, and that’s not an example we want the US to follow.

AAMVA’s website is more honest about the purpose and planned scope of the scheme: “The mobile driver’s license (mDL) is the future of licensing and proof of identity.”

As we note in our comments:

The fact that the TSA seeks to require the installation of a government app on a mobile device of a certain type suggests that the government has other purposes than mere “identification”, such as the ability to track devices as well as people. But we don’t know, because we haven’t been able to inspect the source code for any of these apps.

Most of the details of the TSA proposal remain secret, despite our efforts to learn them. So our comments focus on the unanswered questions about the proposal, the deficiencies in the TSA’s “notice”, and the TSA’s failure to comply with the procedural requirements for consideration of proposed regulations and for approval of collections of information from members of the public — which the TSA is already carrying out illegally, without notice or approval, with digital ID apps that state agencies are already installing on smartphones:

By this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) proposes to establish “standards” (which are not included in the NPRM and not available to the public) for a national digital ID to be used by Federal agencies in an unknown range of circumstances for unknown purposes (also not specified in the NPRM, and for which the notices and approvals required by law have not been provided or obtained).

The NPRM, which includes a proposal to incorporate by reference numerous documents which are not included in the NPRM and have not been made available to would-be commenters who have requested them, fails to provide adequate notice of the proposed rule or opportunity to comment on the undisclosed documents proposed to be incorporated by reference. It violates the regulatory requirements for incorporation by reference of unpublished material….

The proposed rule would also implicitly incorporate the Master Specification for State Pointer Exchange Services (SPEXS) published by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), which is not included or mentioned in the NPRM or publicly available and which AAMVA has actively attempted to remove from public availability….

The NPRM purports to include an analysis, pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), of “the information collection burdens imposed on the public,” and claims to have requested approval for these information collection from the the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). But both the NPRM and the request for OMB approval omit any mention of the collection of information from individuals that occurs each time a “mobile ID” is “presented” and an app on a mobile device interacts with TSA or other Federal agency devices or servers….

What data fields will be collected when a TSA or other Federal agency device interacts with a mobile ID app on an individual’s device? We don’t know. What code will an individual be required to allow to run on their device, and with what privileges? We don’t know, although this could be critical to the risks and potential costs to individuals if, for example, they are required to allow closed-source code to run on their devices with root privileges.

From which people, how many of them, in what circumstances, and for what purposes, will this information be collected? We don’t know, although all of this is required to be included in an application for OMB approval of a collection of information….

What will individuals be told about whether these collections of information are required? We don’t know this either, although this is a required element of each PRA notice, because the TSA provides no PRA notices to any of those individuals from whom it collects information at its checkpoints, including information collected from mobile IDs.

As the TSA itself has argued in litigation, no Federal statute or regulation requires airline passengers to show ID. And hundreds of people pass through TSA checkpoints and board flights without showing ID every day. An accurate submission to OMB, and an accurate PRA notice (if approved by OMB), would inform all individuals passing through TSA checkpoints that ID is not required for passage. But instead of providing OMB-approved PRA notices at its checkpoints in airports, the TSA has posted or caused to be posted knowingly false signage claiming that all airline passengers are “required” to show government-issued ID credentials. Individuals incur substantial costs as a result of these false notices, particularly when individuals without ID forego valuable travel in reliance on deliberately misleading signs that ID is required.

Read More

Oct 09 2023

The difference between stating your name and showing ID

The 11th Circuit Court of appeals has ruled that it is clearly established law that even in a state with a “stop-and-identify” law, and even if police reasonably suspect you of a crime, police may not require you to show ID or arrest you if you refuse to do so.

We don’t think people should be required to identify themselves. Self-identification can amount to self-incrimination, and compelling individuals to answer any question from police or other government agents would violate the Constitutional right not to be compelled to give evidence against oneself. You have the same right to remain silent if police ask, “What is your name?” as you have if you are asked any other question.

Despite this bedrock principle, some states have passed “stop and identify” laws of dubious Constitutionality that purport to require people to identify themselves on demand to any law enforcement officer who reasonably suspects them of a crime.

Even in those states, however, there’s a fundamental difference between being required to state your name verbally and being required to have, to carry, or to show ID credentials.

That distinction was central to the decision of the US Supreme Court in Hiibel v. Nevada, in which the court didn’t reach the question of whether a law requiring suspects to “show” ID would be Constitutional because it found that Mr. Hiibel could have satisfied the Nevada “stop and identify” law by verbally stating, “My name is Dudley Hiibel.”

Other cases in the lower courts since Hiibel have touched on this issue, but until now, none that we are aware of has depended squarely on this distinction between stating your name and showing ID.

The clarity and significance of the 11th Circuit panel’s opinion in Edger v. McCabe makes it worth quoting at length:

The facts of this case are not in dispute, as the entirety of the encounter between Mr. Edger and the police was captured on the police officers’ body-worn and dash cameras….

Mr. Edger is a mechanic in Huntsville, Alabama….. One of Mr. Edger’s longtime clients is Kajal Ghosh, who owns a red Toyota Camry. The Camry is primarily driven by Mr. Ghosh’s wife, who works as a teacher at Progressive Union Missionary Baptist Church. One or
two days before June 10, 2019, Mr. Ghosh called Mr. Edger and reported that the Camry had broken down while his wife was working at the Church. He asked Mr. Edger to fix the car and told him the keys would be waiting for him at the Church’s front office.

On June 10, around 2 p.m., Mr. Edger went to the Church to pick up the keys and to inspect the Camry. He determined something was wrong with either the car’s steering or its tires, and he concluded he would need to come back later with tools to fix the car. That evening, he returned to the Church with his stepson, Justin Nuby, in tow, intending to either fix the Camry on-site or to take it back to the shop for further repairs. Mr. Edger and Mr. Nuby drove a black hatchback to the Church.

After Mr. Edger and his stepson entered the Church’s lot, the Church’s security guard observed them and grew concerned…. At about 8:05 p.m., the security guard called 911 and told dispatch: “I have two Hispanic males, messing with an employee’s car that was left on the lot.”

Police arrived, and the court describes what the video evidence showed as follows:

Mr. Edger continued to work, and the following conversation began:

Officer McCabe: What are y’all doing?

Mr. Edger: Getting the car fixed.

Officer McCabe: Is this your car?

Mr. Edger: Yeah, well, it is one of my customer’s.

Officer McCabe: One of your customer’s?

Mr. Edger: Ghosh Patel, yep. I was over here earlier….

From here, the interaction rapidly escalated:

Officer McCabe:  Alright. Take a break for me real fast and do y’all have driver’s license or IDs on you?

Mr. Edger: I ain’t going to submit to no ID. Listen, you call the lady right now. Listen I don’t have time for this. I don’t mean to be rude, or ugly, but …

Officer McCabe: Okay. No, you need to—

Mr. Edger: I don’t mean to be—

Officer McCabe: —give me your ID or driver’s license.

Mr. Edger: No. I don’t. Listen, I don’t want you to run me in for nothing.

Officer McCabe: Are you refusing me—are you refusing to give me your ID or driver’s license?

Mr. Edger: I’m telling you that if you will call this lady that owns this car—

In the middle of Mr. Edger’s sentence, as he was attempting to explain the situation to Officer McCabe, Officer Perillat seized Mr. Edger from behind. He led Mr. Edger to the side of the Camry and started handcuffing him. As Mr. Edger protested, Officer Perillat told Mr. Edger: “We don’t have time for this,” and, “You don’t understand the law.” During this time, the video shows that Mr. Edger offered his driver’s license at least three times before the officers could finish handcuffing him. Eventually, the officers managed to handcuff and search Mr. Edger, and then detain him in a squad car. Throughout this process, the officers never asked Mr. Edger or his stepson for their names or addresses….

Mr. Edger was charged with obstructing governmental operations in violation of Alabama Code § 13A-10-2(a)(1). The City of Huntsville dropped all charges relating to this incident. After the dismissal of the charges, Mr. Edger filed a § 1983 civil rights lawsuit, alleging a false arrest in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful searches and seizures, as well as a state law false arrest claim….

Turning now to the defendant’s theory that probable cause existed to support Mr. Edger’s arrest because he violated Alabama’s Stop-and-Identify statute, Alabama Code § 15-5-30. The Stop-and-Identify statute allows an Alabama police officer who “reasonably suspects” a crime is being, has been, or is about to be committed to stop a person in public and “demand of him his name, address and an explanation of his actions.” Id.

Mr. Edger argues that he cannot possibly have violated § 15-5-30, because it clearly delineates three things the police may ask him for: his name, his address, and an explanation of his actions. He argues nothing in the statute requires him to produce physical identification, and that Officer McCabe’s question, “Do y’all have driver’s license or IDs on you?” and repeated references to “IDs” were clearly demands for him to produce physical identification of some kind. He notes that physical identification is not one of the three enumerated things that the police may ask for under Alabama law, and that he was never asked for his name or address.

We agree with the district court’s assessment that Mr. Edger did not actually violate § 15-5-30… Section 15-5-30 does not require anyone to produce an “ID” or “driver’s license” as Officer McCabe demanded. Indeed, it does not require anyone to produce anything. Instead, it grants Alabama police the authority to request three specific pieces of information. Here, the video evidence is clear that neither Officer McCabe nor Officer Perillat asked for Mr. Edger’s name or address. Additionally, Mr. Edger’s objection was clearly related to the unlawful demand that he produce physical identification…. Because the Alabama statute, by its plain text, does not permit the police to demand physical identification, the officers lacked probable cause and thus violated Mr. Edger’s Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him….

We hold that the plain text of the Alabama statute is so clear that no reasonable officer could have believed they could arrest Mr. Edger for failing to produce his “ID” or “driver’s license” under § 15-5-30….

[T]he broad background rule is that the police may ask members of the public questions and make consensual requests of them, Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 434–35 (1991) (collecting cases and examples), “as long as the police do not convey a message that compliance . . . is required.” Id. at 435. But the person “need not answer any question put to him; indeed, he may decline to listen to questions at all and may go on his way.” Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 497–98 (1983)….

[T]he Alabama statute is clear. It lists only three things that the police may ask about. This is not an issue of “magic words” that must be uttered. There is a difference between asking for specific information: “What is your name? Where do you live?” and demanding a physical license or ID. The information contained in a driver’s license goes beyond the information required to be revealed under § 15-5-30. Compare Ala. Code § 32-6-6 (“Each driver license . . . shall contain a distinguishing number assigned to the licensee and a color photograph of the licensee, the name, birthdate, address, and a description of the licensee . . . .”), and Ala. Code § 22-19-72 (requiring that there be “a space on each driver’s license . . . to indicate in appropriate language that the [licensee] desires to be an organ donor”), with Ala. Code § 15-5-30 (“A [police officer] may stop any person abroad in a public place whom he reasonably suspects is committing . . . a [crime] and may demand of him his name, address and an explanation of his actions.”).

Further, neither the parties nor our own research can identify any Alabama law that generally requires the public to carry physical identification—much less an Alabama law requiring them to produce it upon demand of a police officer. There simply is no state
law foundation for Officer McCabe’s demand that Mr. Edger produce physical identification

So to summarize, it has been clearly established for decades prior to Mr. Edger’s arrest that the police are free to ask questions, and the public is free to ignore them. It has been clearly established prior to Mr. Edger’s arrest that any legal obligation to speak to the
police and answer their questions arises as a matter of state law. And the state statute itself in this case is clear and requires no additional construction: police are empowered to demand from an individual three things: “name, address and an explanation of his actions.” Ala. Code § 15-5-30. It was thus clearly established at the time of Mr. Edger’s arrest that she could not demand he produce physical identification. And because Officer McCabe’s demands for an “ID” or a “driver’s license” went beyond what the statute and state law required of Mr. Edger, she violated clearly established law. Under this set of facts and these precedents, no reasonable officer could have believed there was probable cause to arrest Mr. Edger for obstructing governmental operations by violating § 15-5-30. And this theory cannot support the grant of qualified immunity to the officers.

We welcome this decision and commend it to the attention of other courts and other cops.