Argument: Profiling is about using a range of information, not race

Issue Report: Airport security profiling


Mike Farmer: “It still amazes me how words can be so quickly demonized, so the very mention of the word causes irrational outrage. Profile doesn’t mean baseless discrimination against a certain nationality or race — in this case, it means judging people at airports by set of criteria which raise a red flag.”[1]

Representative John Mica said in November of 2010, the TSA should “properly review documentation and tags and get more information about the individual at the checkpoint.”[2]

Sheldon H. Jacobson is a 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: “One solution is to use information about passengers (voluntarily provided and readily assessable) to eliminate those who have negligible risk factors, which should be the case for 60 to 70 percent of passengers. Then apply state-of-the art technologies for the remaining pool of passengers, for which less information is known, and subject them to the highest level of security screening, and in some cases, not allow them to fly. We can call this behavioral profiling, information profiling, or whatever we wish. However, until we use security resources appropriately, we will never achieve a secure air system.”

Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International. “Common Sense Profiling Works.” New York Times Room for Debate. January 4th, 2010: “I have been an ardent supporter of passenger profiling for many years. It is the only solution that addresses the problems of the past as well as those of the future. The problem is the word “profiling” itself as it conjures up negative connotations.

A traveler’s appearance, behavior, itinerary and passport are factors to consider in effective profiling.
Effective profiling is based on the analysis of the appearance and behavior of a passenger and an inspection of the traveler’s itinerary and passport; it does not and should not be based on race, religion, nationality or color of skin.

We need an intelligent approach to aviation security that deploys common sense to the security checkpoint. We require highly trained, streetwise, individuals who can make risk assessments of passengers as they arrive at the airport and determine which technology should be used for screening.”