The travel industry — concerned that treating all travelers as suspected terrorists will discourage travel and reduce their business — has joined forces with the homeland-security industrial complex of providers of travel surveillance and control technology in a pseudo-grassroots lobbying and propaganda campaign for more profiling of travelers.
The motives of DHS contractors and their lobbyists are obvious. But we’re disgusted with travel companies, especially “common carriers” required to transport all would-be customers, whose pitch to the public is that it’s OK for the travel industry to collaborate with the government in collecting lifetime travel histories of their customers, and to subject some of them to everything from virtual strip-searches and/or manual groping to standardless secret no-fly orders, as long as those invasions of privacy and the right to travel are imposed selectively.
Making sexual assault, warrantless searches, and denial of transportation discriminatory and selective — where the selection is based on anything other than a search or arrest warrant, injunction, or other court order — only exacerbates the unfairness and the denial of rights.
The latest euphemistic buzzword for “trusted traveler” and other profiling schemes is “risk-based”. The term “risk-based’ is used to create the mis-impression that profiling actually measures risk. But let’s be clear: whether there is sufficient evidence of “risk” in a particular case to justify search, detention, and/or denial of freedom of movement is a matter to be determined by a judge, not a profiling algorithm. And even if we wanted to ignore the Bill of Rights, there is no reliable algorithm for identifying “risky people”. Some people do bad things, but trying to identify “bad people” is impossible without trying to read minds. Any trusted traveler program would inevitably be a “Department of Pre-Crime”, and not based on any actual judicial determination of risk — much less of risk sufficient to justify prior restraint on the exercise of First Amendment rights of assembly.
The travel industry and the profiling companies want you to think that you’d never fit the profile, that you’d be considered a “trusted” traveler, and that all the bad things would be reserved for other bad people who, on the basis of their travel history or other (legal) activities, “deserve” to be treated like terrorists. But the reality is that any trusted traveler program is a threat to all our rights.
Just say no to any “trusted traveler” proposal. Just say no to the traveler surveillance and profiling it would require. And just say no to the discrimination it would embody and institutionalize.