Letter to the editor

Introducing biometric identity devices at airports for anything other than airport and airline employees, where real security issues require correction, is uncalled for and presents a danger to privacy ["Facing the need for biometrics," Federal Computer Week, Oct. 1, 2001].

The reasons for requiring ID at the airport are questionable at best. What does this requirement do for security? You are scanned and searched as you move to your flight, what does ID do? It certainly does establish for the airline that you have not resold your ticket, but how is security improved? Let us all keep in mind that the terrorists of Sept. 11 were here on student and tourist visas, they had ID, and that did not stop them from doing what they did.

Any move to improve security that infringes on citizen privacy must come with a risk analysis that justifies the cost, demonstrates a tangible increase in security and makes a solid case for why privacy should be violated. We're all too willing of late to go with knee-jerk measures to "improve" security that are not based on any analysis but do give the facade of something being done to make people safer.

Current technologies provide many opportunities for extraordinary invasiveness into private lives, and we must guard against our current national tragedy being the springboard for those who sell such tools and who otherwise carelessly consider privacy from feeding on the body of our damaged sense of safety.

James Nugent

U.S. Navy

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