A recent article in the Wall Street Journal brings to light continuing abuses by the Transport Security Agency of people’s freedoms. In the article several cases are depicted in which the TSA expanded their role from protecting against terrorism on planes to general law enforcement. Here’s the issue: the only reasons the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution allows anyone to screen at all in advance are that the screening is not viewed as a law enforcement activity, and that it is impossible to undo a successful attack. The principle, then, should be that TSA should be required to invade our privacy to the minimum extent possible to protect against such attacks, so that we can continue to enjoy what little we have left of our rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The courts have held as such repeatedly, and it is the same logic used to uphold drunk driving checks.
Technology actually hurts and helps. For instance, new scanners make it possible to see through clothing and detect all manner of substances. On the other hand, because they can do so, there should be less need to open containers if those scanners have said that they are safe. Similarly, technology can improve the way we identify individuals. By doing so, quizzing people about their identity should become less necessary. Just to be clear, I do not view anything having to do with RFID in such a vein. We’ll discuss this more soon.