New ‘invisible’ security measures such as license plate readers, scanners and facial recognition technology are among the proposals.
More discreet ways of enforcing airport security by using a blend of advanced technology and profiling techniques have been suggested by aviation experts and leaders in the industry, as reported by the South China Morning Post.
The new techniques being floated would reportedly allow crowds to move speedily and easily through airports while being monitored covertly, according to those making the proposals.
Security would then be able to step in swiftly once a threat is identified.
“It can be screening and profiling that you can never see,” Ross Lockie, Asia-Pacific regional officer for aviation security and facilitation with the UN Agency the International Civil Aviation Organization told media.
In addition to technological changes, staff would be trained to monitor behavior more closely as part of screening. Additional plainclothes police officers would also be deployed.
The new policies were unveiled at AVSEC World, an aviation industry conference in Kuala Lumpur (October 25-27). The conference brought over 400 security experts from around the world to discuss ways to counter contemporary threats to airports. This year’s conference was titled “Evolving risks, integrated solutions.”
Turkey’s Istanbul airport is already introducing some of these measures. It has started training shuttle staff and taxi drivers to carry out behavioral observation screening. It has also begun to introduce new technologies.
““I certainly see political expectation to do more landside (security) across Europe and the world after the tragic attacks in Brussels and Istanbul,” the head of security policy at London’s Heathrow airport Alexis Long said.
“We will see a much more mature type of checkpoint being developed, one that may not be as visible to the general public. I think human factors are going to play an equal part.”
Civil liberties campaigners have long sounded the alarm about increased governmental surveillance under the aegis of counter-terrorism. The fear is that once a power is acquired by the state, for whatever reason, it will not easily be relinquished even if the initial reason fades away.
The new measures particularly worry those concerned with civil liberties when considered alongside other programs. Whisteblowers have revealed mass surveillance of social media and telephone communications by government spy agencies. CCTV cameras have been placed across swathes of major cities. In the UK, there was one camera for every 32 people as of 2011. Other developments include the militarization of civilian police forces and drone strikes capable of killing remotely.
They are right to a certain extent. However, in the reality of today’s world, stopping terrorism is vital and airport security is a critical part of that. In order to prevent terrorism, it is necessary to monitor those entering and leaving through international borders.
Stopping potential threats at the border is much easier and safer than attempting to find someone who has already entered the country. Airports also have to be vigilant against the possibility of a plane being hijacked or blown up which could potentially kill hundreds or even thousands.
In reality, increased powers of monitoring and surveillance that concern civil libertarians have already been acquired by state actors. In addition, terrorism in the modern age has made air travel both more dangerous and tedious.
These measures, if properly overseen, have the potential to make such travel safer and more streamlined. Used improperly, they can be a dangerous aggression that can harm rather than protect.