I read an article recently on the newly forged agreement between the EU and the United States with regard to the sharing of passenger data. Now, in my opinion, I think a lot people worry way too much about privacy and the keeping of sensitive data, I am not saying that their worry is unjustified. In reality, one should worry about this data and who sees it; ideally people should trust their government with such things.
But we do not live in an ideal world, very few people trust their governments, and why should they with all the corruption and stupidity that happens. Take for example, Bill Clinton cheating on his wife with an intern, an ugly intern, but an intern nonetheless. Or the recent case in of Senator Foley being involved in inappropriate conversations with male pages on his staff. Again, I am baffled, as always, by person’s conducting questionable activities with underage person’s, but then again I am quite right in the head.
The point is that because people dont trust governments, they are much more resistant to giving up their privacy data; even in the interest of security. The article speaks to the immense amount of legalities that had to go into the US and EU Passenger Privacy Agreement. In particular, the EU Privacy watch groups and the American Civil Liberties Union expressing their disappointment in the EU’s inability to stand up to the US in this case.
I can see where the US is coming from. As a friend said to me a few months ago. “With all the new security regulations ( shoe checks, no liquids on the plane, and being frisked ) one could say the terrorists are winning.” In a sense I agree with him, their actions certainly are making things difficult for travelers; try spending 14 hours on a plane with nothing but the pop served on the plane. The fact is, you could make a bomb out of anything, a laptop battery, a cellphone. So what happens when a terrorists rigs there cellphone to blow on a plane, will the US disallow cellphones on planes, imagine the riots that would cause in the business community.
In my opinion, the best way to protect travelers is to know as much as possible about whose are traveling. This of course involves the collection of data, usually sensitive data, to get an idea about a person’s background. This also involves profiling, which many watch groups in the US have cried about discrimination. However, the fact is that profiling is a very efficient means of picking out suspicious persons, though its by no means perfect. However, I would rather have people upset over being profiled then being told I cant take my cell phone or laptop on a plane.
In my opinion, I dont worry about what data the government is collecting about me, or how it will be used. If they abuse it, then there isn’t much I can do about it anyway, as they would find a way to get the information regardless. For example, the article mentions that the US was prepared to deny American bound aircraft access to their airspace if an agreement was not reached. Some may call that overstepping the bounds, others would say the US is doing what it takes to ensure the protection of its travelers. As for me, if they want my data they can have it, thus far no harm has come and as long as it keeps going I wont care. But other people are more cautious, smarter perhaps, and that is their decision and that is a right granted to all persons.
However, it is clear that the threat of terrorism is not going away. Some may say that if we pull out of the Middle East no more terrorist attacks will come, perhaps their is some truth to that. Personally, I dont buy it, but that is a topic for another post at another time. But people need to ask themselves would they rather give up some privacy information or not take a soda on a plane.