Dumb idea?: Biometric hall pass for travelers

Dumb idea?: Biometric hall pass for travelers

Summary: Bruce Schneier doesn't mince words about the stupidy of (a) using biometric IDs to create two classes of travelers (low risk, higher risk) and (b) privatizing the system that does it: What the Trusted Traveler program does is create two different access paths into the airport: high security and low security. The intent is that only good guys will take the low-security path, and the bad guys will be forced to take the high-security path....

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TOPICS: Security
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Bruce Schneier doesn't mince words about the stupidy of (a) using biometric IDs to create two classes of travelers (low risk, higher risk) and (b) privatizing the system that does it:

What the Trusted Traveler program does is create two different access paths into the airport: high security and low security. The intent is that only good guys will take the low-security path, and the bad guys will be forced to take the high-security path....The Trusted Traveler program is based on the dangerous myth that terrorists match a particular profile and that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we only can identify everyone. That's simply not true. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were unknown and not on any watch list. Timothy McVeigh was an upstanding US citizen before he blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building....What incentive do these [for profit] companies have to not sell someone a pass? Who is liable for mistakes?

Need more reasons this is could be a bad idea? What Bruce doesn't link to is a blog he wrote the other day about how Holland's biometric passports have been cracked.  On the other hand, it's not like the credentials accepted by airports today can't be easily forged.  So, maybe anything that raises the barrier to forgery is better as long as it applies to everyone and it doesn't give anyone (the TSA in particular) a false sense of security.  One other point: soft targets in combination with the potential for a lot of casualties seems to me to be the biggest area of vulnerability.  In the bigger scheme of things, between the security in the airports, the security on the planes, and highly sensitized passengers (who, historically, since 9/11 have acted pretty quickly at the first sign of a threat), airliners are not exactly easy prey.  I'm not saying that we should have the best security possible in airports.  It's just that I can think of some much softer and very populous targets that could use equal if not more attention.

Topic: Security

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  • Airport Check in Lines

    It has always seemed to me that the huge checkin mazes at major airports would be a prime target. The airlines and TSA should figure out a way to spread people out instead of mashing everyone into a confined area.
    jimbo_z
  • It's already in place here in the Netherlands

    Here in the Netherlands we have something like that in place, it's called privium http://www.privium.nl though it's not meant to distinguish the good and the bad guys, instead it's meant for the frequent flyers which hate to wait in front of the passport line.

    It's working based upon an iris scan etc. and a chipcard.

    Profiling to find terrorists is tedious and doesn't work all that well as you point out. A terrorist tends to blend in before he hits you. The only thing you could probably profile is those passengers that frequently fly because of their work as they're probably not terrorists.

    It's probably better to just work on better manners for finding bombs and weapons than try to make a low and a high security lane (hey, i'm in the high security lane, why is that?) Though for speed of travel i guess i would like to be in the high security one as this one probably isn't that crowded.

    As far as the dutch passport is concerned (yes, i call it the Netherlands or Dutch, ;), as Holland is only a small part of the Netherlands). This is actually the second time they have these problems with passports and it seems they don't learn at all. Well they still have some months before they have to roll it outso maybe this has smartened them somewhat up. What i would prefer is some kind of button on it, and only when i press the button a signal is provided or just a chip that's readible from 20 cm. But that's for another discussion
    tombalablomba
  • But there is a profile

    We know they're not white, they're not black, they're not asian, they're not women, and they don't have ties to the middle east. Bruce needs to get real.
    george_ou