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Subject: [IP] more on NYC to search transit riders' bags -- but ...

  • From: David Farber <dave@farber.net>
  • To: Ip Ip <ip@v2.listbox.com>
  • Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 18:01:03 -0400



Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <Bob19-0501@bobf.frankston.com>
Date: July 22, 2005 4:08:53 PM EDT
To: 'Lauren Weinstein' <lauren@vortex.com>, 'Bob Frankston' <Bob2-19-0501@bobf.frankston.com>
Cc: dave@farber.net, 'Ip ip' <ip@v2.listbox.com>
Subject: RE: [IP] more on NYC to search transit riders' bags -- but ...



To bolster your argument -- there was an article in the New Yorker -- I think
before 9/11, pointing out that while the number of hijackings was reduced the
number of people affected was about the same so there is some truth in notion
you displace such acts rather than preventing them but I wouldn't go so far as
to say that's a reason to do nothing.


And, yes, I am very concerned about increased surveillance because scrutiny is
indeed a deterrent to innovation more often than terrorism because the former
is, I presume, more common. Since there you are likely to be guilty of something
there is a real problem -- it's like using the automatic toll systems to detect
speeding. It's interesting that I don't know of cases where that is being done
-- perhaps a tacit admission that they will find crimes they don't want to know
about and that we can live with &quot;too many&quot; laws as long as we know the game and
accept that they will only be used against bad people? That is indeed
problematic.


I'll also agree with you in that spooked people tend to decide they've had
enough theory and want you to just round up the usual suspects based on their
own stereotypes.


My own compromise is the assumption that there is a dynamic through crude
balance between proximate threats and responses. A random bag search that people
can walk away from may be in that gray area. It's not so much what will be found
in the bag as much as theater that would add to the stress of those who fear
discovery. That's the technique used in Israel for example. Whether it works or
makes sense -- I can't really judge. I was just pointing out that this is a case
where the cover story might not make sense but the action may be rational.


Of course the point of terror is in getting a reaction rather than the direct
effect. It's theater too ...


-----Original Message-----
From: Lauren Weinstein [mailto:lauren@vortex.com]
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2005 09:58
To: Bob Frankston
Cc: dave@farber.net; 'Ip ip'; 'Lauren Weinstein'
Subject: Re: [IP] more on NYC to search transit riders' bags -- but ...

Bob,

If for the sake of the argument we accept the theory that there is a
psychological deterrent at point-of-contact, all it does is move the
bullseye to other softer targets.  Nor are the other questions (what
happens to opportunistically discovered contraband, etc.) answered
at this point.

Are we willing to accept the concept of having everyone (well, we
know who the search targets would really be) subject to being
searched by authorities at any time or place in public?

--Lauren--
Lauren Weinstein
lauren@pfir.org or lauren@vortex.com or lauren@eepi.org
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
http://www.pfir.org/lauren
Co-Founder, PFIR
  - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Co-Founder, EEPI
  - Electronic Entertainment Policy Initiative - http://www.eepi.org
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
DayThink: http://daythink.vortex.com

 - - -


While I do share the skepticism of some policies like banning cell phones

there

is a strong psychological deterrent in this case. As we've seen in London

today

this is about psychology of those who are trying to do harm as well as the
illusion of security for the passengers.


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-ip@v2.listbox.com [mailto:owner-ip@v2.listbox.com] On Behalf Of
David Farber
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2005 07:30
To: Ip ip
Subject: [IP] more on NYC to search transit riders' bags -- but ...




Begin forwarded message:

From: &quot;Eklund, Neil H (Research)&quot; <eklund@crd.ge.com>
Date: July 21, 2005 9:36:10 PM EDT
To: dave@farber.net
Subject: RE: [IP] NYC to search transit riders' bags -- but ...




-----Original Message-----
From: owner-ip@v2.listbox.com [mailto:owner-ip@v2.listbox.com]On Behalf
Of David Farber
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2005 5:37 PM
To: Ip ip
Subject: [IP] NYC to search transit riders' bags -- but ...





Begin forwarded message:

From: Lauren Weinstein <lauren@vortex.com>
Date: July 21, 2005 4:30:23 PM EDT
To: dave@farber.net
Cc: lauren@vortex.com
Subject: NYC to search transit riders' bags -- but ...


Dave,

As noted in:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/21/nyregion/21cnd-security.html?
pagewanted=2&hp

NYC is about to start &quot;random&quot; bag checks of transit system riders.

A number of questions immediately spring to mind.  Will the
inspections be truly (pseudo)-&quot;random&quot; in a mathematical sense, or
random in terms of &quot;White-skinned all-American looking males are
rarely 'randomly' selected&quot;?  What happens if inspectors find
contraband or suspicious radical materials during their searches
(e.g., printouts of your IP postings from this mailing list?)

Authorities say that persons who do not wish to be inspected will be
allowed to leave.  Uh, does this mean they can just move onward to
some other station where the &quot;random&quot; selection isn't likely to hit
them the next time?  Or will they be followed, tracked, and
otherwise become a &quot;person of interest&quot; by virtue of refusing a
search?

And most depressingly, exactly how will this policy prevent
suicide bombers (presumably a key demographic) from exploding
their payloads in the terminals prior to or during inspections,
or bombers in general simply shifting from mass transit to any
number of other &quot;soft&quot; targets around the metropolitan area
(sidewalks?  stores?  shopping centers?  Times Square?)

Of course, this is the same NYC where authorities tried to ban
cameras on the transit system -- another brilliant security move.

You can't blame authorities for trying.  They are desperately
attempting to make people *feel* that they are safer, even when they
know that their efforts in the face of such asymmetric threats are a
drop in the bucket.  Even London with its vast camera-based
surveillance infrastructure, is learning that while such systems may
be useful for after-the-fact analysis, they are largely impotent to
deter attacks overall.

The powers-that-be know all this.  The sooner that they start talking
straight to citizens about the realities of these situations and the
forces that create people willing to commit such attacks on innocent
persons, the sooner we may all be able to work toward genuine
solutions that still preserve our basic values.

--Lauren--
Lauren Weinstein
lauren@pfir.org or lauren@vortex.com or lauren@eepi.org
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
http://www.pfir.org/lauren
Co-Founder, PFIR
    - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Co-Founder, EEPI
    - Electronic Entertainment Policy Initiative - http://www.eepi.org
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
DayThink: http://daythink.vortex.com



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