Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Airport insecurity

In yet one more (probably futile) attempt to make our friends to the south (the United States) feel safe, the government announced that it would be installing 44 machines at airports all across the country that will generate three-dimensional images of air-travellers bodies. Officials are trying to reassure the travelling public that the security people who will be monitoring the scanner images will be in a separate room from where the traveller is being scanned in order to protect their privacy, and I should think so too! The privacy of these security people is too important to be disturbed by those who they are looking at naked pictures of. I can only assume that these rooms will be sound-proofed as well so that the hoots of "woo hoo" and "look at that" will not be heard by the general travelling public.

As is so often the case with cases of increasing security exacting a cost in personal privacy, there are those who are against what is being called the "peeping-Tom program". Critics have pointed out that this multi-million dollar purchase of untested technology is merely the latest over-reaction to another intelligence failure (security officials were for some reason unable to flag Umar Farouk Abdulmatallab, the Nigerian bomber, as a dangerous radical even though Umar's own father had reported him as a dangerous radical.) To those in charge the obvious answer was that rather than tighten up the intelligence gathering protocols it would make more sense to offend all airline travellers with virtual strip searches. Micheal Vonn of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Union disagrees, saying, "There's no benefit to looking at hundreds of millions of people naked who are completely innocent. If you are looking for a needle in a haystack, you don't add more hay."

Mark Salter who is an associate professor at the University of Ottawa's school of political studies, and who possibly views anybody who likes their privacy as a dangerously unstable liberal tree-hugging political-correctness-bot, views the scanners as a "quantum leap forward." Everybody needs to be thoroughly scanned on an equal footing and, "that becomes a new way of thinking about efficiency and effectiveness," Mark said. Salter also says that passengers must embrace and understand any new security measure, which are only for the greater good after all. He further explains, "If you explain tot he public reasonably and rationally what the process is, and what the reason is for doing it, then people will not only comply but co-operate."

Well, I don't now about that, Mark. What would be the reasonable and rational explanation you would give to my 95-year-old Grandmother or my 22-year-old niece as to why they have to be looked at naked before being allowed on an airplane? I can't think of one, but here's a thought: it is possible that people are just leery of this new technology just because it is new and untested technology. How about, just to show that there is nothing to be worried about what if all the politicians and security "experts" who want, or are even just allowing, this new "security" stuff to happen, how about if they and their families (parents, spouses, kids, grandkids, etc.) all have the scans done, then have all those scans blown up into poster size and posted in every airport where this technology is being used? Then people could see that there is nothing to be worried about. It would be a prime example of just how tasteful and above-board all this stuff is. Why, all those people could even go to the gym for a couple of days before being scanned. That's more than fair.

Yeah, it is sort of a "put up or shut up" type of situation, because every time I hear someone say my personal privacy has to be invaded for my own good, I get real suspicious.

Anyway... Humouroceros


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