Trading Security For Convenience

By Martin Bosworth

I’ve never heard of this guy until today–he’s apparently one of those good-at-everything types that we all hate–and I know this post about using Registered Traveler is mostly meant for fun, but this paragraph irks me nonetheless:

I’m happy to be a member of Gattica. Why? Because I already am, and I would suggest that — if you use normal health insurance and travel via airplane even the least bit — you are as well. If I’m going to be a under the watchful eye of the Patriot Act, I’m damn well going to accept it and use it to skip airport lines.

It’s this exact kind of attitude that enables our freedoms to be chipped away, like water wearing away stone. If you accept that you’re already screwed and that the world is irrevocably controlled by corrupt governments and amoral megacorporations, why not just drop trou, relax, and enjoy it?

It’s a typical nihilistic attitude that I see from many in my generation–that it’s not worth it to even try and build a better future, since we’re hopeless to change anything. So we should just focus on the simple, materalistic aspects and make our lives easier. While I’m all for that ;), I’m also for knowing that the world I live in is made BETTER, not just easier, for the actions I take. And that means standing against intrusive, unnecessary, and classist/fascist programs like these.

For a slightly less sanguine take on Registered Traveler, check out the work done by my respected colleague Dan Schlossberg. It ain’t all speedy travel and short lines, kids.

3 replies »

  1. The seductive part of the message is that you’re screwed either way, so you might as well indulge in the benefits. Very compelling, that. I mean, if you’re telling me that things are hopeless, you sure have a lot of evidence you can draw on, huh?

    And maybe it’s true. And some of the hassles I’ve had at security make it even more so.

    I just keep feeling like democracy and freedom as we have known them are irretrievably lost, thanks primarily to technical innovation. If so, the next task is to figure out how to make what replaces them as friendly to liberty as possible.

    Shoot me, I guess….

  2. I am amused – I write future scenarios for a group called MindBullets. More than a year ago I came up with a scenario entitled Super Passports which envisaged entirely this series of events. It’s an obvious response to the inconvenience that regular travellers experience.

    Clearly it is an invasion of privacy, and just as clearly it can save some people a huge amount of time. Conundrum.

  3. Of course, the other issue is that the terrorists can game that system, too. I’m sure it isn’t easy, but there’s never been a foolproof system. And for a terrorist who has no desire to live?

    So maybe we’re developing a system that will allowed terrorists to be waved through security?