Surveillance, Does it work?

Since the horrific terrorist attack on 9/11 airports have increased their security claiming that they are keeping us safe. Starting as a simple mandatory search, Americans would say that is was all right if it was for them to be protected. As time went on new technology was brought to airports such as an electronic strip search using full body scanner, which could see through clothing. Even pat-downs were getting pretty personal. Now, Americans question, “Is this surveillance really working?”, “Is this really protecting us?”, and “Is this really necessary?”.

These many new technologies that are used at airports that are to “protect” us and “protect” our belongings do indeed work. But it has become clear that prejudices and biases have become increasingly involved. There are even no-fly lists. There was a man who had to change his name because he was fed up with consistently missing his flights every time he had to travel because he was being “randomly” searched. Some of the technologies are set up to automatically and “randomly” search people. It is known that a black woman is more likely to be strip-searched than any other person at the airport.

The many technologies are endless. There is an iris scanner that can detect the color of one’s eyes. It can easily detect the difference between blue eyes and hazel eyes. It does have some issues from the elderly who may had cataracts and for people who are in wheelchairs and they will without a doubt be subject to search because this technology doesn’t work for them. There are also motion detectors, thermal sensors, and video cameras to help surveillance.

Security cameras, the number on most thought of surveillance, even have evolved to give better pictures and more clear evidence. With better cameras to detect more issues, wouldn’t the airport not necessarily need these other technologies? So that they “could do more with less?”

Today airports actually want to do “more with more”. With many different stakeholders these security and surveillance systems are being transformed with more than just basic surveillance in mind. While these new technologies are increasing protection for us, it is also increasing instinctive overprotection that could be helpful in the future or most likely be more harmful to the idea of surveillance and security.

An example from our readings in the book, Supervision: an Introductory to the Surveillance Society, states that the security have had instances where they would not be doing their job watching and seeing for issues but instead looking at women’s breasts or butts just for the operators enjoyment. Some of the other findings include that security officers would follow young people and those of color disproportionately. These people are supposed to be protecting us.

On the border of the US there are high surveillance towers and high barbed wired fences to help mandate infractions and help agents to prevent anything unlawful to come across the border. There are more than plenty of differing displays of border surveillance. The European Union created the system EURODAC in 2003. This collected fingerprints and other information from individuals who were searching for sanctuary; refugees. The intentions of the EURODAC were meaningful but like any of the other technologies or regulations for security, it had changed and now is used through the creep function. This is what may have started as good intentions but has been changed by political circumstances.

I believe that people want to be protected from harm and have the right to do so. But is it against their rights to be overly searched and have their privacy invaded? These new surveillance technologies are claiming to help increase the protection of the citizens of the United States from future terrorist attacks. Studies are increasingly showing that these new policies are decreasing and falling into the state of being overprotective and aren’t very effectual in preventing crime and terrorism. The claims are truthful and have great intensions but at some point these new technologies are invading privacy and clearly prejudices and biases are getting in the way. Airports are starting to collect data that is seemingly unnecessary and it is creating friction between the security and those who plan to travel.

The surveillance production in these airports are billion dollar industries. They are invested to help and protect. The claim is true and with all good intensions but in all reality, it is just too much protection and too much security. Just for them to say that they have these technologies isn’t enough to have actual hard evidence that they work. In the end, the hard core surveillance is actually effecting and disturbing the right to privacy and crime is still present in airports today.


( http: / / / patents / US20040008253

( http: / / / contact/ 10944310 / e- anthony – incorvati Airports )

(Gilliom, John, and Torin Monahan. “Security at Any Cost?” Supervision: An Introduction Ti the Surveillance Society. Print)

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17 thoughts on “Surveillance, Does it work?

  1. I agree that the use of the advanced technologies that airports use for surveillance might not be used to its full potential and in the best ways. But imagine if they weren’t there at all. In my opinion, I feel like the heavy security before you enter the terminal is suppose to strike fear into people flying. Hopefully making people want to question themselves and check again to make sure they are following the rules and not bringing something they aren’t suppose too. Surveillance in airports and other places might have its flaws, but when it comes down to it, it’s never going to go away and is most likely going to become even tighter than it already is.

  2. If anything, it’s a preventive measure. People can’t just walk onto a plane with a gun without being found out. Though the TSA agents don’t care about your stuff when they search it, so expect things to potentially break/be stolen. They also force you to not bring food with you, so your stuck either buying overpriced food at the terminals or on the plane. They’re a surveillance system and an extortion scheme, the perfect combo for any Fortune 500 company.

  3. I really enjoyed your blog post. I think that the question of if surveillance works is very broad and is can really only be answered in the right context. If you don’t know what the purpose is, you can’t define if it is working or not. You worked through the idea that surveillance is in place to protect us and prevent crime. I believe that surveillance does an overall poor job of preventing crime until it becomes overly invasive, then it does a bit better job. However, it is important to remember technology used in an airport is not going to work to prevent crime in a school or at a park, at least not without changing the experience of these places. I think you were right to choose the airport as a model for this post, especially the American airport. It is a unique model of surveillance where our greatest fears lie. I believe that submission is easy to obtain in a place which people are reminded all the time that 9/11 started in.

  4. Somewhat Less Secret Spy Guy

    I feel that the more systems there are, the more likely there is an exploit somewhere. Airport security specifically, is like a house of cards. It seems that there are all these things keep things safe and secure, but in Newark airport a undercover TSA agent walked right through security and on to a commercial flight with an IED in his pants. It all comes down to if you trust the systems and those running it, and I do not. The people running the systems are just that, people. They have prejudices, they make errors, and they can fail much more discreetly than a computer. Bottom line, the way in which we use security for safety needs a serious overhaul.

  5. I really liked your blog post. It raised some very good questions. I agree that we have a lot of surveillance that seems to not being doing much, or as much as it could be. I do think that most of the security we have is helping and keeping us safe. There is a point that surveilling us is going to cross the line and just go too far. It’s getting more and more personal. But, everyone has their own personal boundaries and it’s hard to find a happy medium with things as broad as this. I think you chose the right examples to make your points on how our surveillance and security works. Good job!

  6. I quite enjoyed this blog post. I like that because it is such a broad topic that you focused on the location of an airport and how it is used there. I think that with airports, that high security should definitely be there but I am curious of the “random” process. Like why is somebody who is of the the African American culture stopped more, is it because of past prejudice in the data or just because it is truly random? If it is prejudice how do we get rid of that in surveillance?

  7. I think that airport security has a reason to be tight and it works, at least to some extent. There are always ways around rules and we can’t expect it to be 100% accurate. However, I do not agree with how “random” their checks are. We have no idea what data they are using and it could be possible that the data about the people who are checked is just wrong and coincidental.

  8. I think this was a very interesting blog post to read! In my opinion, I think airport security is necessary, however annoying it can be. Though the “randomness” of the searches could be argued, it is ultimately for our safety. It is unlikely that any two persons views on what is the “right amount of security” will ever be the same, so it is hard to make a clear line of what is too much security and surveillance, and what isn’t enough.

  9. Very interesting post! I agree with a lot of your points…the airports (especially american airports) are claiming to be protecting us, and to a certain extent, they may be. Stuff like metal detectors and bag checks make sense. They’re simple and are convenient to us as travelers because they’re not extremely invasive and don’t take a lot of time. When we get to things like the “random” (but also very racist) body searches and the limitations on how many ounces of lotion you can have in your travel bottle, they cross into invasive and inconvenient territory. I personally think the procedures they are doing now days are unnecessary and unhelpful.

  10. I thought this was a very interesting post! I think that it sad to see how something initially designed for our safety is being used to invade our privacy. I still think that for the most part, airport security is important; however, I think that it should be more equal and should not specifically target people of different races or age.

  11. I agree that airport security can be inconvenient and, at times, overly invasive. Although, I do think that it is necessary and I think it prevents more crimes than we are aware of. The “randomness” of searches can probably be argued and it may be viewed by some as racist but again I think they are doing everything in our best interest. Privacy is a term defined differently by all so it is hard to say whether or not airport security is invading our privacy. Overall I think that surveillance in airports is used for our protection and safety.

  12. In my opinion airport security needs to be that tight because i would rather know that I’m safe getting on a plane than being afraid. If it means i have to stand in a line for and hour to be safe then I will stand in a line. The security isn’t always going to be 100% guarantee, but I would rather be safe than sorry.

  13. I definitely agree that airports are doing too much and overdoing it. I think that they are doing everything they can to keep us safe, and, in theory, all of these things should increase our security. The only problem is the people that are running the security systems. They are being bias towards individuals, and not using their power in a fair way. They use it for the wrong reasons to, like the example in our book said, look at women’s butts or breasts. I think that surveillance systems shouldn’t be so invasive, and they should try to use the “less is more” idea.

  14. I agree that surveillance has grown into an abused over exaggerated safety precaution used within the airports, malls, etc and that in the way we use it one could say it is a form of slavery. We are imprisoned with Government’s protocol, and our own embezzlement with the technology and devices we use today that bring us to the reason of what the government is this. Surveillance works and it is a great investment in our nations protection, however there are certain lines that should not be crossed. The” random searches,” run by the government are an unnecessary service, I no it’s not a 100% guilt like like I said safety precautions and regulations are great but

  15. I agree that surveillance has grown into an abused over exaggerated safety precaution used within the airports, malls, etc and that in the way we use it one could say it is a form of slavery. We are imprisoned with Government’s protocol, and our own embezzlement with the technology and devices we use today that bring us to the reason of what the government is this. Surveillance works and it is a great investment in our nations protection, however there are certain lines that should not be crossed. The” random searches,” run by the government are an unnecessary surveillance, I no it’s not a 100% guarantee security system but like like I said safety precautions and regulations are great to a certain extent. It’s great that our government is doing everything in there power to keep us safe, prevent terrorist attacks however they should not forget they are protecting us… people with trust issues, anxiety attacks, curious minds, stubborn human beings we like attention just not when we’re getting a very personal pat down our bodies.

  16. I think that surveillance can invade privacy and may push that to the brink. Yes people who survey others, can be invasive and irritating, but the reason they do this is because these people don’t have a list of who will commit a crime or who will not. Police, and other enforcement organizations need to find out on their own who is a threat and who is not. Are these people going to look for people who are the most credible threat, yes. Are they going to profile like every single human being does, yes. With the airport situation there may be racism their but it does not mean that the airport security is corrupt. This security finds most threats and takes care of them, no matter what ethnicity they are.

  17. I enjoyed the broad application of your article and I agree that sometimes these technologies aren’t used universally and that they can be used to enact prejudices already present in our society. However sometimes these prejudices are applied on a universal basis, and are universally inconvenient for all the people they affect; my chemistry teacher in high school for example is a foreign citizen from a North American country and had a very hard time getting his greencard because of an accident he had in a college chem lab that rendered most of his fingerprints unreadable. In order to prove his identity he had to hire a lawyer and jump through hoops to gain entry into The United States.
    While these precautions may seem unnecessary and flawed, I personally believe that they are rooted in legitimate security concerns.

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