Reading the news about airline security is getting alarming to me because people are getting increasingly complacent about the appearance of improved security rather than actual security measures being put in place.
The worse part is the high level of acceptance of loss of privacy and civil rights in exchange for that appearance of security – largely owing to the bizarre “I have nothing to hide, therefore am okay with being delayed and searched and prodded and poked.”
It’s not about you not having something to hide, it’s about authority not having the right to arbitrarily search you in the first place.
A big something guaranteed in sections 7 through 9 of the Canadian Charter of Rights – http://www.efc.ca/pages/law/charter/charter.text.html.
Being a traveler does not make you suspect and therefore subject to cavity searches.
Privacy and other Rights have to be balanced against actual security gains, not diminished for the appearance of security improvements. Security is not a feel good exercise.
Security is about threat/risk management and detection. Prevention is a secondary consideration because it’s impossible to prevent all security breaches, but it is possible to ensure that breaches are detected – which allows for criminal investigations and improving risk assessment and actual security.
Prevention is also about minimizing loss in the event of breach, not eliminating it.
Security should improve actual security – not be about making the public feel like something is being done and so accept further travel delays, costs, and diminishing rights.
What would be some actual security measures?
– Make airplanes unhijackable with the cockpit not accessible from the passenger area – a separate entrance and dedicated flight attendant for the cockpit crew. And if there is a hijacker with a bomb on board, then at least damage/loss can be minimized to the plane and occupants, rather than the plane plus collateral damage in densely populated areas.
– Courier packages or anything being shipped are not on passenger planes and luggage travels on the same plane as the traveler. Granted that a suicide bomber isn’t concerned about traveling with the bomb, but this measure would have prevented the Air India bombing at least. Even if we can’t prevent the terrorist, we can take steps to make it harder for them.
– Security screened, trained and paid appropriately employees at airports who are supported by the best technology scanners available – many airports charge a Airport Improvement Fee, so offset the cost implementation with a $10 Security Fee charge – which you rather – pay extra to ensure that there’s metal/chemical scanners that everyone walks through or a cavity search? And, I do mean everyone who enters the airport – put the first round of scanners at the entrance doors.
Many security aspects are already done by airports – the design of the building and nesting of physical security zones – and yes, they have scanners and security people – but often they are not well paid or screened.
And, not only the security people, but everyone from the baggage handlers to the cleaners should be screened to a higher personnel level.
The reality is that we cannot eliminate risks, but we should not be willing to accept the appearance of security or even actual security at the cost of our rights and freedoms.
We have a legal obligation to obey the law and a moral obligation to question it.
We are not defending our way of life by eroding it.