Biometric screening for airline crews: free range serfdom

Last week I wrote about TSA’s new Known Crewmember Program, which will enable crew members to bypass the current airport security screening process (see Who will watch the watchmen?) As I explained, a similar program called CrewPASS has been in limbo for years because no one ever agreed to fund it. One might wonder: why start a new program when they were never able to get the first one up and running? If the money wasn’t there for the former system, is anyone going to be willing to pay for the new one? Maybe the new one will cost less – yeah, that must be it.

Then again, state bureaucracies tend to shy away from things that cost less. Something about having unlimited access to the fruits of everyone else’s labor has that effect on the non-productive class.

And if you toss in some gee-whiz new products from the security and surveillance industry that’ll tastefully facilitate maximum control over the masses (and ensure an even tighter grip on the fruits of their labor), then you’ve got yourself a program worth throwing somebody else’s money at all day long.

Don’t get hung up on the details; economic stimulation is very complex and nobody really expects any of us to keep up with it all. The important thing to know is that it’s working like a charm.

Last week I shared my concerns that the Known Crewmember Program would probably use biometric technology to track the movements of crew members and control our access to the air transportation system and, thus, our means of earning a living. I haven’t had much luck finding specific and reliable details about the “different technical resources” that will distinguish the new program from CrewPASS. But today, here’s what Hugo Martin of the Los Angeles Times had to report:

Details of the proposed system have yet to be worked out, but TSA officials say they plan to hook into airline employee databases and confirm the identities of pilots and flight attendants using biometric measures such as retina scans and fingerprint matching.

That’s the first reliable confirmation I’ve seen using the B word in association with the new program. I fully expect to see a lot more of this as they roll out new screening procedures for the rest of the traveling public over time (especially if/when we win our lawsuit to end the current invasive, illegal, and ineffective security practices).

Tempted as I am to rant for a few thousand words more about why biometric technology is not the solution to the state’s crimes against travelers in the U.S., I trust I don’t need to. If capturing images of our naked bodies and/or physically pawing at us is unreasonable search and seizure (hint: it is), how will the increased control afforded by biometrics in the hands of the tyrants turn us back toward a system that honors our personal dignity, lawful rights, and civil liberty? Are we not driving ourselves further into the totalitarian darkness?

See Martin’s original story in the Los Angeles Times here.

About Michael S. Roberts

Suspected terrorist/domestic extremist. Proficient sinner. Father of 6. INTP. Autodidact. Fed up pilot. Chatty by nature...
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5 Responses to Biometric screening for airline crews: free range serfdom

  1. I have long predicted that it is likely to be with crew members that the gov’t will attempt to institute a system of chipping pilots. Imagine how easy it would be to convince haggard crew members that they need to get chipped in order to avoid the screening process. You would get a lot of buy-in.

    I suggest that we tell our fellow crew members to resist this effort at having more government control over our lives. What we need is for private companies to have the full liability as well as responsibility for their own private property (airplanes).

    • Not only are they getting a lot of buy-in, but a lot of pilots – under the auspices of their unions, especially – have been vocally promoting the idea of using biometric technology to whisk us right through the screening checkpoints. It’s so convenient, you know: just bat your eyes at the scanner and walk right in. Yeah, there’s definitely a need to help a lot of people think this one through.

      And you’re absolutely right – who has a more direct, legitimate interest in airline security than the airlines themselves? As I’ve said many times, the priorities and interests of politicians and bureaucrats are much different from those of investors and professionals.

  2. Kathryn says:

    I read your post the other day about biometrics for this and just now saw the LA Times article… so I jumped back on your site to let you know, but see you already saw it!

    • Thanks, Kathryn. Yeah, I’m following this one pretty closely. I saw early on when I took up the fight against scanners and frisking that this was probably going to be the ‘solution’ they offer in response. First crew, then passengers, then they’ll come up with reasons to start tagging the non-traveling public. We all need to keep a close eye on this.

  3. Sam Danielson says:

    Isn’t access to our profession already controlled through FAA certificates, administrative law, FBI background checks, and a national pilot registry. We are already branded cattle. This just makes that brand less painful.

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