Is air travel more secure if they know who you are?

If you fly and are in airports, you’ve experienced the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) having you take off your shoes. They take away fingernail clippers. All bags are rigorously scanned. Random complete searches are done to ensure someone can’t predict when they’ll be pulled aside. This randomness creates a climate of uncertainty for a person attempting to slide by with prohibited substances or anything that might compromise air safety. Security screening is thorough and complete…and I feel quite secure when I travel.

Since everyone is screened completely — and baggage going in the hold too — why does it matter what your name is? Your birthdate? Your address? Those have absolutely *nothing* to do with whether or not you should-or-should-not be screened more fully and *nothing* to do with increased security — especially since it is highly unlikely the next target of terrorism will be airplane or airport-centric.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s page surrounding CAPPS II and the issue of adding *your* personal profile to the already complete airport security measures, the “…TSA has announced plans to implement CAPPS II, a controversial passenger profiling and surveillance system that would require you to give your birth date, home phone number, and home address before you can board a U.S. flight.  Under CAPPS II, travel authorities would check these and other personal details against the information collected in government and commercial databases, then “tag” you with a color-coded score indicating the level of security risk that you appear to pose.  Based on your assigned color/score, you could be detained, interrogated or made subject to additional searches.  If you are tagged with the wrong color/score, you could be prohibited from flying.”

As has been pointed out by security experts a lot smarter than me, knowing all this personal data would just ensure that “Suzy or Sam Terrorist” would be people that would have zero criminal records and would pass and receive positive color/scores. Again…strong point-of-entry security measures at our nation’s airports (like we ALREADY HAVE IN PLACE) would ensure nothing gets on board an aircraft.

If you’ve got a moment to get your head around this issue, here are three quick reads:

  1. Wired news article here
  2. Security expert Bruce Schneier’s post here
  3. An entrepreneurial millionaire’s civil disobedient protest around this issue is laid out here.

UPDATE 8/16/05: Wow….what better way to make the point than this article! Babies Caught Up in No-Fly Confusion: Infants have been stopped from boarding planes at airports throughout the U.S. because their names are the same as or similar to those of possible terrorists on the government’s “no-fly list.”

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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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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.