Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Flying the unfriendly skies

Though I am a strong advocate of personal privacy rights, I don't have a problem with technologies being discussed for airport security in the wake of the failed terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound jet on Christmas Day. I don't think anyone has an absolute right to fly, and it seems to me that with the level of threat that especially faces airplanes, the greater good of security for all outweighs the inconvenience of a small invasion of one's privacy.

The technology that is now the focus of ideas to tighten airport security are backscatter X-ray machines, which show analysts an image of the body beneath clothes. Theoretically, explosives and other weapons are much easier to see using these machines. That's not to say that equipping all US airports with such machines would prevent harm from people flying in elsewhere, as was the case with the most recent attack.

The real question, as with many issues that nation faces, is whether elected officials have the political will and the citizenry has the attention span to completely review the process and to do what actually makes sense. A Canadian newspaper published an interesting story today that discusses the steps that Israel takes to ensure security in its airports and on its planes. Think about it: Israel is the #1 target for Muslim extremist terrorists, yet there hasn't been an airport attack there in many years. Read the story and ask yourself why the US doesn't adopt a system like Israel's, which is clearly effective.

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