No sooner have I finished my last outburst against the ludicrous, oxymoronic phenomenon that is air travel security de nos jours than I find that I’m not alone in my scepticism.
Maciej Ceglowski describes his recent experiences flying from Helsinki to New York:
“The Transportation Security Administration has asked us to advise passengers that congregating in groups during the flight is prohibited. Please note that this includes standing in line to use the airplane lavatories.”
What threat, specifically, is this measure addressing? Are hijackers supposed to be deterred from getting up and storming the cabin because of an in-flight announcement? ("Alas, Mahmoud—foiled again! We must remain seated"). How is this measure in any way enforceable? Is the pilot expected to divert the flight? Perform a barrel roll at the first sign of a pee queue? And how, exactly, is the sight of multiple passengers simultaneously lunging from their seats towards a suddenly available lavatory an attractive alternative to having a little group milling about by one of the galleys?
Elsewhere, the author of The Mommy Blog describes how the security droids deal with the fearsome terrorist threat represented by babies and toddlers:
That rule about not holding a baby during a search—what is up with that?? Believe me, I am fully capable of holding my child far enough from my body to get that little wand where it needs to go, but there was just no negotiating a compromise...in the end I actually had to put the baby on the ground so that they could put me in the off-balance stance, search me, and invesitgate the wire in my bra.
By this time our 4 year old was a sniffling mess because we had forgotten to warn him that they would put his stuffed dinosaur through the x-ray machine.
There’s also controversy over government use of passenger data. Northwest Airlines are being sued for giving passenger information to the government.
“As egregious as this violation was there is no clear legal right to information privacy under American law,” said Prof. Joel Reidenberg of Fordham University, who specializes in information privacy and technology issues.
“In Europe what Northwest did is clearly illegal,” he added...
However, what about when the US government uses EU citizens’ data to test their controversial new CAPPS II system?
Airline data on EU citizens is being used by the US Transport Security Administration for “testing” of the controversial CAPPS II (Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System). This is quite handy for the TSA, given that Congress won’t let it use CAPPS II on US citizens yet, but is not quite what we understood from the deal the EU struck with the US last month.
It’s all a complete farce, isn’t it?