TSA and Secure Flight

In a post today from noted security expert Bruce Schneier, he examines the Transportation Security Administration’s “Secure Flight“. It’s a pretty sobering read.

As I’ve expressed previously on this blog, I’ve been specifically steering clear of discussions of politics (e.g., geopolitics), macroeconomics, and other areas where I actually do connect some dots but those dots are in areas in which it seems prudent to be distant. It’s pretty clear to me that a climate of fear is slowly rising in the U.S. and, one could argue, concern over our terrorism-related tactics domestically, treatment of those suspected of having intelligence as well as our foundation-lacking motives to take over and build a strategic position in Iraq has already manifested itself in to distrust globally.

I’m concerned that a continued raising of a climate of fear and accelerating profiling of the American citizenry will raise barriers to internet innovation (in my view an engine for the economy) right here at home as well as abroad. We’ve already seen moves by the government to ensure that the internet can be monitored globally with initiatives like Echelon and the highly controversial domestic Carnivore system. I believe that this increase in monitoring the internet has profound and troubling security, privacy and trust implications. These negatives could materially and negatively impact the U.S. use of internet-centric innovation by businesses and organizations which absolutely must compete on a world stage.

Every time I fly I’m struck by the illusion we all have that we’re somehow safer and less prone to terrorist attack. Isn’t it curious when you realize that all the Dept of Homeland Security color-coded alerts that occurred in the runup to the last election occurred at major holidays — when the maximum number of travelers would be in our airports afraid of terrorism? Isn’t it also interesting that — since the election — there haven’t been any warnings of note? Does that mean our investment in the TSA has stopped air terrorism?

In a talk on IT Conversations with Mr. Schneier some time ago, he pointed out the obvious: that our overwhelming investment in airport/airline security is like padlocking the barn door after the horse has bolted and is long gone…and that terrorists would simply look for other targets minimally secured (and there have been numerous stories written and produced about the lack of security at other main targets). One example of this was the knee-jerk reaction by the transit authorities nationally after the London bombings. I worry about the Mall of America in my own backyard as well as other sensitive targets I’d rather not point out in public.

If what Mr. Schneier describes (TSA building a draconian extensible and scalable data warehouse for collecting information for “profiling” passengers) is true which I believe is the case, the implications of this far exceed the boundaries of protecting air travel, will raise the climate of fear amongst the US citizenry and add to the dim view many countries in the world now hold toward us.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Connecting the Dots Podcast

Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.