MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Uncle Sam’s Latest Plan to Spy on Air Travelers | The Nestmann Group

Posted by M. C. on May 29, 2019

These days, you can wind up on a watchlist for merely complaining to a TSA agent. Getting on a watchlist doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to board your flight, but it will result in delays at the airport.

https://www.nestmann.com/uncle-sams-latest-plan-to-spy-on-air-travelers

By Mark Nestmann

When you arrive at the airport to board a flight, do you have any legitimate “expectation of privacy?” Uncle Sam and the Orwellian Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) would like you to think you don’t.

I beg to differ.

It’s not enough to be poked, prodded, and groped by bored TSA agents as we pass through airport checkpoints. The agency is now telling us – falsely – that we need TSA-compliant identification documents to board our flights.

To make sure those documents properly identify us, the TSA is rolling out face recognition systems at major airports. The goal is to use biometric technology to identify 100% of passengers boarding international flights by 2021.

The airlines are only too happy to cooperate. Delta, JetBlue, British Airways, Lufthansa, and American Airlines are integrating face recognition into their check-in process. Naturally, it’s pitched as a matter of “security” along with “passenger convenience.” In some cases, you needn’t even show your passport or boarding pass to board your flight. You just stare into a camera.

This practice became much better known a couple months ago when a JetBlue passenger who went through this process tweeted: Did I consent to this?

The inconvenience and privacy invasion we suffer when we fly might be more palatable if there were any evidence that it’s effective. But there isn’t any. In 2015, the TSA sent undercover agents to dozens of America’s largest airports to test security protocols. Shockingly, the agents were able to smuggle explosives or weapons through security checkpoints 95% of the time. The TSA failed in 67 out of 70 tests.

Two years later, screeners again failed to detect 95% of explosives and drugs in an undercover test at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Indeed, evidence suggests that the TSA has never intercepted anyone intending to hijack a plane at an airport checkpoint.

This is the system you finance with $7 billion of your tax dollars each year. It’s worse than you ever imagined. It is, in the words of security expert Bruce Schneier, “security theater” at its finest…

For domestic flights, no law or regulation prohibits you from traveling anonymously. When privacy activists filed a Freedom of Information request for the TSA’s records of travelers who show up at an airport checkpoint without ID, they learned that more than 98% of them were able to board their flights. That means the TSA is lying when it posts signs like this one warning passengers that if they want to board a flight after October 1, 2020, using a driver’s license as identification, it must be compliant with the Real ID Act

You can get on a plane without ID only if you print your boarding pass at home and proceed directly to the gate without checked luggage. Once you’re at the gate on a domestic flight, you won’t need to show ID to board the plane – just your boarding pass. If you have checked luggage, though, it’s unlikely that a ticket agent will accept it without ID…

These days, you can wind up on a watchlist for merely complaining to a TSA agent. Getting on a watchlist doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to board your flight, but it will result in delays at the airport…

Be seeing you

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