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SAS Software, which is the UK branch of an American company has said that they have developed software that is capable of profiling all passengers and cargo to assess if they are suspicious and possibly a terrorist.
Risk profiling is a controversial topic. It means identifying a person or group of people who are more likely to act in a certain way than the rest of the population, based on an analysis of their background and past behaviour.
When it comes to airline security, some believe this makes perfect sense.
Others, though, say this smacks of prejudice and would inevitably lead to unacceptable racial or religious profiling – singling out someone because, say, they happen to be Muslim or born in Yemen.
SAS Software says that there is a difference between racial profiling and risk profiling. It claims that there is no data that is passed to the border agency when they are coming into the country. What is being passed on is their nationality based on their passport and their point of origin where their flight is concerned.
The programme works by feeding in data about passengers or cargo, including the Advanced Passenger Information (API) that airlines heading to Britain are obliged to send to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) at “wheels up” – the exact moment the aircraft lifts off from the airport of departure.
Profiling is profiling. You’re building up a profile on a person based on where they travel and spit out information that can be completely inaccurate. The Advanced Passenger Information System records all your travel information. So, if I am a businessman from Yemen and travel for work to Cuba. A week later I travel to Russia, then on to China, all for my business. A month later, I take a much needed vacation to the United Kingdom, this new program will flag me as suspicious due to the amount of travel and possible locations I’ve traveled to. So what does the Advanced Passenger Information require of me when I travel to the United Kingdom?
Full name (last name, first name, middle name if applicable)
Date of birth
Country of residence
Travel document type (normally passport)
Travel document number (expiry date and country of issue for passport)
This doesn’t make anyone safer. In fact, it puts us more at risk and we should, instead, be using a truly randomized system that checks 8-10% of the traveling public. By utilizing a system such as this, any terrorist who wants to accomplish their task merely needs to find someone who is of low risk. The terrorist will learn quickly how to game the system and will be less likely to be caught. Instead of harassing nice old ladies from Britain, the UK will now be harassing nice old ladies from the Middle East. The terrorists have plenty of ways of harming a country. They don’t need airports to accomplish their missions, but those in authority over the citizenry and subjects are far too paranoid to ever realize this.