Next year trial tests of the new “smart security” will begin at a number of international airports. This new technology, which despite how it sounds is not a time machine to 1994, would mean that travelers could keep their shoes and belts on, their tiny shampoos and laptops packed, and breeze on through an open area security check point with their carry on in hand without so much as a nod from a TSA agent. All they would have to do is be signed up for voluntary pre background check programs like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, and they’re free to pass on through, no hassle, no fuss, and head to their flight. Sound too good to be true?
It kind of is.
See, while it might feel like you’re getting a free pass from the TSA frisk and strip ordeal, in actuality it’s just going to be the “smart security” feeling you up instead. Similar to the controversial body scanners, this new technology will see, sense, and record everything you’ve got, within your bags, your shoes, your computers, your clothes and all that is underneath. Unlike the body scanner however, this new device will be able to scan the masses as they all pass through a designated area at once, like tiny little secret hidden robot eyes in the walls creeping on all your goodies. This new set up comes with the likelihood of replacing a lot of security personnel with technology (because that’s what we need right now, less jobs) so that leaves the question- what would prevent just anyone from walking through the fast lane? How do they know you’re part of the precheck program? Well, with a biometric chip in your passport of course! Not only will the robot eyes basically peer into the depths of your soul, but they can also track essentially your every move and location since they can identify you by your passport. So, even if you aren’t packing heat and you’re just one of the majority, an innocent traveler, where are these recorded images of you and all of this data being stored? How long are they being stored for? Who has access and what can they do with it? This is why even before “smart security” I always chose the TSA agent pat down over the body scanner, because I’m pretty sure those rubber gloves want to forget the data they collected just as much as I do.
While this will create for a more efficient airport experience, even for travelers not in the precheck programs as their lines will be shorter from lacking everyone who is, it’s going to become difficult for US flyers to find the seemingly ever blurring line between needed security and the blatant violation of their 4th Amendment rights. Are the TSA’s increasingly Orwellian ideals more diminishing of our freedom than they are supportive of our safety?
How would you feel about using “smart security” in airports?
image via thinkstock