Airline Passenger Profiling Systems after 9/11: Personal Privacy Versus National Security

This paper reviews the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) forthcoming computerized profiling system called Secure Flight. Secure Flight is the latest generation of so-called computer-assisted passenger prescreening systems. Such systems invite considerable privacy and civil liberty concerns. This article explores the central legal, political and social tensions borne of profiling systems such as Secure Flight. These profiling systems highlight a philosophic tension in American society, disrupting the theoretical constitutional dividing line of liberty and order. The relative importance of personal liberty and societal security is debatable and contextual. The author suggests that information networking vis-à-vis airline passenger profiling is a clear, limited context-specific societal objective that legitimately rivals private interests. However, the TSA should better publicize the merits of its profiling system so that citizens have confidence in it and their rights relative to it. A collaborative approach that provides tangible travel-related benefits in exchange for voluntary sacrifice on the traveler's part might be better than the TSA's current paternalistic approach.


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  • Accession Number: 01006507
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 26 2005 12:57PM