The revelations of Edward Snowden have revealed what many expected – Big Brother is watching you. Some in certain agencies and other government circles would change this to say “watching out for you” but that is all semantics. The issue isn’t necessarily all about government collecting the data, it is more about what the data will be used for. Because we don’t know for sure what the data will be used for today, and even more critically into the future, it is almost impossible to say what data collection is appropriate and what isn’t.
The Washington Post has a great story this morning on the TSA Pre-Check program and some of the privacy concerns the program raises. It is classic information trade – you give TSA more information and they make your life eaiser when you travel. What is left out of the equation is the factor of timeframe. Yes, you get pay about $85 for the short-term benefit when you travel – you get your own special preferred line, you get to leave your shoes on, you don’t have to take out your laptop, etc. All of the benefits of membership. What TSA and government gets is a lot of information about you from your fingerprints to an in-depth interview, and the government gets to retain that data for 75 years or more to use however it wants. We get the short term benefit and the government gets the long term benefits.
I am not saying it isn’t a good program or that frequent travelers shouldn’t sign up for it. What I am saying is read the story TSA’s New Pre-Check Program Raises Major Privacy Concerns at the Washington Post and understand the trade you are making.