Argument: Broad security sreening wastes scarce security resources

Issue Report: Airport security profiling


Sheldon H. Jacobson, professor of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “The Right Kind of Profiling.” New York Times Room for Debate. January 4th, 2010: “Since 9/11, we’ve spent billions of dollars to improve aviation security. Some believe that we can spend our way to a solution. In this case, more money (and technologies) may actually be making us less secure.

If we keep focusing on stopping terrorist tactics rather than stopping the terrorists themselves, the aviation security system will never reach an acceptable level of security.

More screening can actually result in less security by directing security attention and resources (which by definition, are finite) onto people who are not a threat, which in turn moves such attention and resources away from people who are a threat.

For any one non-threat person, there is a near-negligible impact on security attention and resources. However, when this impact is accumulated over millions of passengers who fly each year, the effect does indeed become measurable. In essence, by spending billions of dollars on the wrong people, we are not spending billions of dollars on the right people.”