Last week, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. government, technology companies and two major airline carriers would begin testing a radical, innovative airline security screening system. This new computer network will utilize vast quantities of passengers’ personal information, and will link government and private databases to every reservation system in the country. Federal aviation authorities intend to use data-mining and predictive software in this system to monitor passenger activity and recognize potential threats.

This “big brother” style procedure will use information such as credit histories and driver’s license data to compile a profile that could include an individual’s travel history and living arrangements. Currently, airline officials are already negotiating with lawmakers to modify and weaken privacy protections in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.

Critics of this system state that this form of “surveillance infrastructure” has the capability of eroding existing privacy protections, and are disturbed by the idea of government-sponsored background checks. In addition, there is concern that this system will be used for other purposes, such as locating deadbeat parents, drug dealers or any individuals guilty of unlawful behavior.

The government needs to stop trampling on U.S. citizens’ Constitutional right to privacy. There are other ways of protecting our lives, without infringing on our rights.

Instead of using a system which utilizes sensitive personal information, the government should adopt an alternative system called biometrics. The biometric system collects information such as iris scans, fingerprints, and other physiological or behavioral characteristics to identify individuals. Passengers would travel through screening facilities with ease, and need not worry about others scrutinizing their personal information.



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