In late June, up to 10,000 volunteers will test the Registered Traveler, an American program similar to “fast pass” for toll bridge that would allow selected travellers to scoot through airport security.
The aim is to help speed and improve the efficiency of security checks for frequent fliers. By excluding some of them from random security checks, government officials believe their screeners could better focus on other travelers.
Passengers willing to get on the preferred list would be submitted to a detailed background examination. They also might have to pay an annual fee (probably about $100). If they pass the exam, they get a card bearing their fingerprints or other biometric identification.
But the project raises many fairness and privacy issues.
– those who fail to “volunteer” will automatically become second-class travelers subjected to more intrusive searching, longer lines and inconvenient delays;
– people who tend to pay for things with cash or who otherwise lack well-established credit histories would likely be vetoed;
– if the Registered Traveler data gets into the wrong hands, more problems could arise, such as being denied a job just because you couldn’t pass the background check;
– and personally I fear that being called Mustafah or Usama won’t help you getting on the “right” list.
“Nobody said homeland security is about fairness,” said Rob Atkinson, vice president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a non-profit research and educational group in Washington.