Since the events of 9/11, airport security has changed the way people travel. Rules and restrictions have been increased and passengers experience greater inconveniences. Although quality security at the airport is for our best interests, is the current research into passenger screening taking things too far?
Photo by Stuck in Customs
Passengers may face screening at booking
Screening passengers at the time of flight booking requires travelers to reveal more personal information during the checkout process. Using this additional information, the technology being developed is designed to assign a risk rating to customers.
Travelers who fall into a high risk category are directed to provide yet more information. Supporters of this technology advocate increased network security and encourage travelers to see it as advancement and not an inconvenience. Not to worry, such advancement is still very costly to implement and bound to face much scrutiny before it makes it to market.
Photo by Hyougushi
Biometrics may be used for greater airport security
Biometrics consists of gathering biological information to confirm the identity of passengers. Fingerprinting has been around since as early as 1858 and seems a less obtrusive means for the intended result. It is reliable in authenticating a person's identity because it is unique and inherent to them. Additional methods are also being considered such as retinal scans and facial patterns.
Photo by US Army
Considering baggage still needs to be inspected, it seems this would only add to the wait for travelers catching a flight. Most airports already suggest arriving 2 hours early. Will identity authentication through biometrics be swift or will it add to the waiting lines? It seems possible that this will only discourage people from flying in the first place which would of course have a detrimental effect on other airport services such as shopping, restaurants, and airport car rentals. It feels a bit sci-fi to the average citizen, but with the involvement of Homeland Security in its development, it is likely to find a place in the airport security industry. The computer industry giant Microsoft released an announcement recently that biometric authentication software will be included with coming releases.
Biometrics pose risk to consumer privacy
For the common consumer, security comprises of user IDs, passwords, and pin numbers. Arguments against biometric authentication focus on the severity of a compromised identity and people's comfort level in adopting the new technology. Once compromised, it is not as simple as assigning a new password. This takes privacy completely out of the hands of consumers. Not to mention that a simple cold can produce inaccurate results when authenticating by voice. It simply isn't reliable enough to implement yet. Acceptance by the masses will require making the tools understandable to the general public.
Photo by Dan Hankins
Screening and biometrics technology is still in its infancy. Adopting it will require collaboration among research companies in unifying the system for usability and accessibility. Providers must take into account the same issues we face today, criminal activity to forge identities and the resultant devastation to the unwary consumer. There are many obstacles to overcome in fine-tuning such products for consumer integration. However, solutions are being uncovered in the form of smart cards or token systems. One only has to gain the inside scoop on military operations to realize such changes are inevitable.
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