TSA Checkpoint of the Future

USA Today has a good article on efforts to redesign airport security
so that it is faster and less obtrusive. Not surprisingly, the whole effort relies on data-driven screening in place of the one-size-fits-all approach:

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.

Ironically, this solution is being driven not by TSA but by the airline industry and by travelers, many of whom have already signed up to provide more information in exchange for faster processing:

But being known to the government is the closest to one, and the TSA already is experimenting with it. Its PreCheck program is designed to give expedited screening to travelers who tell TSA about themselves as frequent fliers at specific airlines. One million passengers have participated since it began testing in October 2011. TSA plans to expand it to 35 airports this year.

It’s been almost exactly ten years since a left-right coalition of privacy advocates forced TSA into a different, one-size-fits-all path, by claiming that TSA couldn’t be trusted with the age, gender, and travel plans of the people they were screening. Without data, TSA couldn’t do the differentiated screening that is at the heart of the new approach.

We’ve suffered for a decade, victims of bad privacy policy. It’s nice to see the emerging consensus on a new approach.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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