Airlines want eye scanners for ‘secure’ check in’s

Note: Is this the ultimate ‘convenient and anti-TSA’ control grid? Can the public trust the airline companies more than the government? It seems more of the Problem, Reaction, Solution scheme. Problem: false terrorism, Reaction: inconvenient TSA abuses, Solution: less physically invasive but overall more invasive biometric control grid. Is it better to be violated electronically than physically? This is a clear example of the false choice paradigm.

Alex Kennedy
AP
June 7, 2011

Eye scanners and futuristic security tunnels may be standard in airports soon as the airline industry seeks to maintain safety while reducing the hassles of boarding a plane that deter some people from flying.

The International Air Transport Association unveiled a mock-up Tuesday in Singapore of what it dubbed the “Checkpoint of the Future,” where passengers separated by security risk would walk through one of three high-tech, 20-foot-long (6.1-meters-long) tunnels that can quickly scan shoes and carry-on luggage and check for liquids and explosives.

“Passengers should be able to get from curb to boarding gate with dignity,” IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said. “That means without stopping, stripping or unpacking, and certainly not groping.”

Airlines are seeking ways to win back passengers put off by long and irritating airport security measures who have opted to travel instead by train, boat or car. IATA said Monday it expects the industry’s profit this year to plummet to $4 billion from $18 billion last year.

U.S. Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole said he thinks IATA’s security system, which it hopes to implement within five years, is a great idea.

“It’s something that’s long overdue,” Pistole said at IATA’s annual conference. “We’re not at the checkpoint of the future yet but we’re working toward that. I think eventually we will see something similar.”

The TSA has been working for the last six months on developing a system that could differentiate passengers by security risk to cut down on needless checks, Pistole said.

“One size does not fit all,” Pistole said.

The TSA will likely start a pilot program this year in some airports that allows frequent flyers or other travelers with clean records to receive minimal checks, he said.

In the IATA prototype, passengers would be categorized based on the results of a government risk assessment that is put into a chip in a passenger’s passport or other identification. An eye scan would then match the passenger to the passport.

Low-risk passengers would walk through a tunnel with their carry-on luggage in just a few minutes — much quicker than the current average security screening of 35 minutes, IATA said. High-risk passengers would be directed to walk through the tunnel that performs a full body scan while searching for items like explosives.

“We must amalgamate intelligence based on passenger information and new technology,” Bisignani said. “That means moving from a system that looks for bad objects, to one that can find bad people.”

Former Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Tony Tyler replaces Bisignani as IATA’s leader next month. Geneva-based IATA represents about 230 airlines that account for more than 90 percent global air traffic.

One obstacle to the proposed system is that governments could be reluctant to share passenger background information, said Ron Noble, secretary-general of Interpol, the France-based international police agency.

“Most countries don’t want other countries to have data of their citizens,” Noble said.

Airline executives were also concerned about whether the new system would rely too much on technology at the expense of human observation.

“Only technology is not the solution,” said Elyezer Shkedy, chief executive of El Al Israel Airlines. “You must always change your way of defending. Otherwise, terrorists will find your weak points.”

Dems’ immigration proposal creates national ID card, ‘fingerprints’ database

Raw Story

Democrat: Public more comfortable with idea of national ID cardbiometric ID

Civil liberties groups and even some die-hard supporters of the Democratic Party are raising the alarm over the Democrats’ proposed immigration overhaul, which would see the creation of a national biometric ID card.

“If the biometric national ID card provision of the draft bill becomes law, every worker in America would have to be fingerprinted and a new federal bureaucracy – one that could cost hundreds of billions of dollars – would have to be created to issue cards,” the ACLU said in a statement Thursday, following the release of Senate Democrat’s 28-page proposal (PDF) for comprehensive immigration reform.

“Creating a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it will usher government into the very center of our lives. Every worker in America will need a government permission slip in order to work. And all of this will come with a new federal bureaucracy – one that combines the worst elements of the DMV and the TSA,” said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU Legislative Counsel.

As Ezra Klein notes at the Washington Post, no fewer than 10 pages of the proposal are devoted to the “Believe System,” which sets up an ID card for everyone in the work force. “Believe” is an acronym for Biometric Enrollment, Locally-stored Information and Electronic Verification of Employment. The Social Security Administration would be responsible for running the ID card system.

The Democrats’ proposal, whose main backers include Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, makes it clear that the ID cards are intended solely for the purpose of eliminating undocumented immigrants from the work force. It would be illegal for any corporation, level of government or law enforcement officer “to require or even ask an individual cardholder to produce their social security card for any purpose other than electronic verification of employment eligibility and verification of identity for Social Security Administration purposes.”

But that does not satisfy many activist groups, including some pro-Democrat groups supporting immigration reform. An unnamed representative of one such group told The Hill that the ID card proposal sounds “Orwellian.”

The ID card proposal “will give people some pause,” said Angela Kelley, immigration policy chief at the liberal Center for American Progress, as quoted at The Hill.

Sen. Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, defended the proposal in the face of early criticism, telling The Hill that he believes the public has become more comfortable with the idea of a national identification card.

“The biometric identification card is a critical element here,” Durbin said. “For a long time it was resisted by many groups, but now we live in a world where we take off our shoes at the airport and pull out our identification. … People understand that in this vulnerable world, we have to be able to present identification.”

Among the other elements of the immigration proposal is an eight-year waiting list for amnesty for undocumented migrants. Provided an undocumented migrant currently in the US pays his or her taxes, does not commit a crime and learns English in an eight-year period, they will be eligible for legal status.

The proposal comes just one day after both President Barack Obama and the top Republican House representative suggested that immigration reform is unlikely to happen this year. There “may not be an appetite” for immigration reform this year, Obama said, while House Minority Leader John Boehner said, “There is not a chance that immigration is going to move through the Congress.”

The proposal is taking heat in many corners of the media that tend to be supportive of Democratic initiatives.

The plan “outdoes Arizona in bigotry,” asserts Anis Shivani at the Huffington Post.

More….