Travelling to America has, in recent times, become arduous. Increased security due to the threat of terrorism now means the weary traveller is faced with long lines, impersonal questioning, scanning of index fingers and a snapshot of your face. The duty to protect is a core part of national government, but it always seems that the 99 percent of us that travel to the States with lawful and legal intentions are being treated as though we are all criminals. This has turned many away from travelling to the United States, and things don't look set to improve.
We will now be faced with a new challenge: a 10 finger scanner that the Department of Homeland Security is aiming to have at all points of entry in the US by the end of 2008. These scanners are linked directly to the FBI’s criminal database and automatically scan to see if you are wanted or are on any of their lists, be it terrorist or otherwise. (There have already been wrongful arrests relating to this; I expect there to be more over the coming months). We can marvel at the innovation, but surely we must also ask if it is really needed and should so many innocent travellers have to endure it?
Yes, the state must protect its citizens. But the state is also increasingly showing that they have no processes in place that do not tarnish us all with some degree of guilt. The rise in usage of scanners and ID cards is really a government admission that they do not really know how to protect us. It is time for us to ask for protection from someone with better ideas, and an approach that does not invade our privacy, but only invades the lives of those that wish us harm.