Big Brother has his eye on you -- and soon, he may want your fingerprint to fly. A new airport security measure that's been hailed as the "checkpoint of the future" ostensibly saves time and hassle for travelers by using cameras to identify license plates and retina or fingerprint scanners to ensure identity. But honestly, it just sounds...creepy:
At a terminal being renovated here at Love Field, contractors are installing 500 high-definition security cameras sharp enough to read an auto license plate or a logo on a shirt.
The cameras, capable of tracking passengers from the parking garage to gates to the tarmac, are a key first step in creating what the airline industry would like to see at airports worldwide: a security apparatus that would scrutinize passengers more thoroughly, but less intrusively, and in faster fashion than now.
It's part of what the International Air Transport Association, or IATA, which represents airlines globally, calls "the checkpoint of the future."
The goal is for fliers to move almost non-stop through security from the curb to the gate, in contrast to repeated security stops and logjams at checkpoints.
After checking their luggage, passengers would identify themselves not with driver's licenses and paper boarding passes, but by scanning fingerprints or irises to prove they have an electronic ticket.
Passengers would walk with their carry-ons through a screening tunnel, where they'd undergo electronic scrutiny — replacing what now happens at as many as three different stops as they're scanned for metal objects, non-metallic items and explosives.
Now, as someone who flies a few times a year, I am a big fan of streamlining the security process; however, I can't help but feel this is a little too invasive. Biological data? Somehow, that just feels like it's ripe for the mishandling. But this particular conception of airport security is based on the theory that the better known to government you are, the easier time you'll have achieving clearance.
The key to speeding up checkpoints and making security less intrusive will be to identify and assess travelers according to the risks they pose to safety in the skies. The so-called riskiest or unknown passengers would face the toughest scrutiny, including questioning and more sensitive electronic screening. Those who voluntarily provide more information about themselves to the government would be rewarded with faster passage.
Definitely a contrast to what one former TSA head suggests: embracing risk. Instead, he suggests allowing weapons on flights, and having security agencies focus on breaking up terror plots. Perhaps DNA coding isn't the only way to have safer planes after all...