Here Mr. Terrorist, Would You Mind If We Clipped This Monitoring Tag To Your Back?

from the security-theater dept

Some researchers in London say that tagging every passenger in airports with RFID could help fight terrorism. Well, they could give everybody some chewing gum, and that might help fight terrorism, too, and quite frankly, this plan sounds about as useful. The RFID tags would would be used to track passengers around the airport, and work with a set of security cameras that could follow particular people as they move around, and the researchers say it would help by allowing suspicious passengers to be tracked, and to keep them out of secure areas. That's a rather limited set of benefits, nevermind one that could be accomplished without giving every single passenger an RFID tag -- and ensuring they keep it with them at all times. Without the device somehow being locked to or implanted in people, any potential ne'er-do-well could simply ditch it, or attach it to someone else. Never mind the problem many people would have with this type of surveillance for a moment, and focus instead on the sheer uselessness of the system: it won't stop anybody from actually doing anything dangerous or criminal, it just means that if a person's been flagged as suspicious, they can be identified, and the system can follow them, and then they do something, it might get caught on camera. Clearly technology has a lot to offer security, but that doesn't mean that simply applying some technology like RFID without any real thought is a good idea.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    James, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 2:22pm

    Actually...

    ... your thinking seems quite limited here. They could (this is not to say they will), make the RFID tag part of the boarding pass and require it to be scanned (or whatever) to get on the plane.

    In addition... sensors inside of non-standard areas (read trash bins, etc.) could alert security if this sort of item is ditched, or if one of these things "sits" in one spot for too long personel could do a camera ck to make sure there's a person WITH it.

    This could actually be used very effectively. I won't venture to say that a gov't body would be smart enough to do it this way of course, but in theory they could.

     

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  2.  
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    Theoden, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Actually...

    With the ability to print out a boarding pass at home and go straight to the gate, this idea would never work.

    The money that this would cost could be better spent on real security measures, like checking the cargo that somehow gets put on a plane (or ship) with only the assurance of the shipper that it is OK.

     

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  3.  
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    Aaron, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 3:12pm

    If people are getting into "secured" areas, then no amount of RFID technology is going to help.

    And unfortunately, you can't stop terrorism with a full frontal assault, it may slow its progression, but one could argue it is part of the equation that propels terrorism forward in the first place.

     

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  4.  
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    Just Me..., Oct 12th, 2006 @ 3:21pm

    First, I would like to know who exactly is defined as a 'suspicious' passenger. Secondly, why on earth would we let someone labeled as such on our planes to begin with?!?!?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 3:31pm

    Re: Actually...

    "used very effectively"

    To do what? If people are bent on hurting themselves along with other people this does shit. Not to mention that often terrorists have legal passports and are undetectable without intelligence on the inside to weed them out. People that believe this kind of shit will work are just plain dumb.

    We don't need less freedom to be secure - we need more intelligence. Fucking sheeple.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 3:42pm

    I have a better solution to plane security:

    1. All passengers must be naked to board the plane.

    2. No luggage or personal belongings are allowed in the plane.

    3. Steel doors between the flight cabin and passengers that cannot be opened (inside or out). Yes that's right the pilots are built into the cabin and spend the rest of their career inside.

    4. Fake oxygen masks which in the event of a terrorist attack can be used to release a tranquilizer to knock everyone out.

    5. No flight staff except the pilots, who as I said were built into the cockpit.

    That should cover it ;-)

     

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  7.  
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    snard6, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 3:49pm

    Release them into the wild!

    I've got an even better idea. Let's capture terrorists with tranquilizer guns instead of real guns. Then we can tag them while they are sleeping and when they wake up we'll be able to track them all the way back to their terrorist camps!

    Woohoo!

     

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  8.  
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    Zen Garden, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 4:07pm

    Static constraint like this won't really work unless it's made really smart and restrictive, which will be a major pain for other passangers.

    Let's just say there is a way to make the RFID tag stays on each and every passenger - what then? how can it be used to prevent terrorism? What would the terrorist do in the first place? How is it by following these guys we can stop them from doing things? WHO are these guys in the first place?

    You see the real problem is not in the means to stop them. But in knowing what to stop and who to stop in the first place. Once (the govt) nails that, theres many ways to stop them.

    My vote would be, the moneys for these tags would be better off pouredfor invetsigation undercover work 'info gathering' type of thing.

    just personal opinion. :D

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous NSA Employee, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 4:20pm

    Truthfully...

    RFID tagging is technology that's about as old as some of the best Scotch I've got in my cabinet. In fact, I have an associate in the casino loss-prevention business who uses recently de-class'd "mesh mics" which can be randomly tossed at a target, and provide not only ultra-low RF location signal, but also can stream a somewhat intelligible audio stream (running at far less khz than what some of you may think is possible).

    Security is in place that is far beyond these "pleasing the populace" anti-terrorism countermeasures. Rest assured, "Big Brother" is watching, has been watching, and won't miss again.

    -Regards,

    Anon

     

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  10.  
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    DSM, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 4:41pm

    We should tag Middle Easterners with injectable chips like pound puppies, so that way the only ones flying planes into buildings are Yankees.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 4:43pm

    Re:

    Aaron said: "And unfortunately, you can't stop terrorism with a full frontal assault, it may slow its progression, but one could argue it is part of the equation that propels terrorism forward in the first place."

    Actually, the only people that argue that have a jackass as their political symbol. I suppose bending over and taking it in the poop chute is the solution. ;P

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 5:09pm

    Without the device somehow being locked to or implanted in people, any potential ne'er-do-well could simply ditch it, or attach it to someone else.
    Well there you go: just require that air travelers accept RFID implants. It would be "voluntary" of course in that you would have the option of not flying.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 6:16pm

    Re: Truthfully...

    I'm suddenly feeling very creeped out and also very assured from these comments.

    The so-called security measures at airports do seem quite ridiculous. If someone was truly bent on taking down a plane, I really don't see how the current "pleasing the populace" security measures that are in place would really stop them.

    It pleases me to think that there is much more behind our security than making sure we don't have more than 3oz of liquid in any one given container.

     

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  14.  
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    Coursey, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 8:07pm

    Rock On

    So how will they pay for all that?

    Oh thats right we will, with higher priced tickets.

    So not only do terrorists make it take longer to get through an airport.. now it will cost more.

     

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  15.  
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    Capt. Obvious, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 2:11am

    I have a solution.

    Here's my amazing solution:

    Robot planes, with no external communication except for between the plane's computer and the ground.

    Then even if the plane was hijacked, what could happen? Not like they can force it to land.

    Until the machines in the plane evolve enough to seek self-preservation. Then we arm them (the planes) with the sleeping gas mentioned in one of the above comments.

    And now, to make every other aspect of our lives so enshrined in fear that the Terrorists win.

    Woo.

     

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  16.  
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    jedipunk (profile), Oct 13th, 2006 @ 7:57am

    Tag the luggage

    Tag the luggage. That way they can find it.

     

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  17.  
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    Solo, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 10:40am

    You could start with real security like:

    - Screening ALL airport personel, from pilots to security people to the luggage handlers. Especially luggage handlers.
    - Paying attention to restricted area and who has access there.
    - Screening *all* luggage for explosive/dangerous devices. It does not need to explode to endanger the airplane.
    - Screen all additional cargo that goes on planes.
    - Make sure that if someone does not board the plane, his/her checked luggage does not sit in the airplane.

    But it's hard. Or expensive. Or both. And making up technology based pixie dust is more glamorous than tackling the actual problems. Not to mention more lucrative.

    "Everybody down, I'm taking over this airplane. I have a bottle of evian and a tube of toothpaste, and I'm not afraid to use it"

    Idiots.

     

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  18.  
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    BL, Oct 14th, 2006 @ 3:19am

    ORLY?

    Why would the American guv care about flight safety?

    At best, the safety measures merely create an atmosphere of fear and make the American people feel like they're under siege (reelect the guy who's going to save us from terrorism!).

    At worst, someone does manage to hijack/blow up/crash a plane again, giving the conquest of the Middle East a much needed momentum boost (reelect the guy who's going to save us from terrorism!).

    And in the end, the next bomb is going to be carried onto a subway train or parked in front of a building. Good job.

     

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  19.  
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    Doesn't matter, Oct 16th, 2006 @ 10:59pm

    Re:

    Well, when the gov. has a hand in it, it really matters not what they do because when you control both sides, you always know the outcome. But, just acting brainwashed and believing that its for our 'security', why would it matter anyhow with the RFID? Would it have mattered anyhow with the 911 flights? The plan for the would be 'terrorist' is death, so if someone were to blow themselves up, whoopie, we know who did it. Now lets go clean up the mess. Um, yeah....great plan :-?

     

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