Workshop 5: Borderline Security Theatre by Andrew Clement

What is the future of airport security?

Andrew Clement (Professor of Information Studies, University 0f Toronto)
Borderline Security Theatre: Performing asymmetric risk with no-fly lists and biometric identification.

>Download Andre’s presentation: andrew-clement.ppt

Andrew is Computer Scientist originally, reformed one and now more interested in relationship between computer system, digital infrastructure, social organisation and issues that are implicated by these systems. Focusing on privacy, surveillance, the dark side of these infrastructures and positive ones.

How to address recurring atrocious uses of complex assemblage of digital uses. How can we imagine them being designed differently? Technology that is used within borders: tech development and political strategic rhetorical developments. Roberts talk of borders and Mexican borders. Andrew is from Canada, and will discuss border with US. + Canada. Not talking about physical fences but institutional and technological fences built over the past few years.

Summary: How the border is created in different places and moments.Ways in which formal governemnt processes are used and subverted in creating new borders.Biological and physical bodies. Imperative to tie your biomedical data to the records of you crossing the borders: biometric UK leading example of problematic issues surrounding ID cards.

RFIDS: Four unsafe individuals:Prominent in Canada/USA. They have run afoul of new regimes ion border in diff ways. Underlying growth of tech/mediated border control that affects us all. But these are reflecting our own social economic situations. These technologies bring home to us and we remain privilege but many people are running afoul of them to their own surprise.

UNSAFE individual identified by border technology:
Ted Kennedy (US senator)-had problems flying x5 name match (t. kennedy was a terror suspect) He points out that someone of his credibility had problems, what about average person.
Yusef Islam(singer, peace advocate)(Cat Stevens)-Removed en-route form UK>US, 2004
Ann Wright(Colonel, US army retired)-On FBI criminal list>denied Canadian entry. Code Pink activist
Maher Arar (Canadian engineer) -Person of interest list, intercepted at JFK, return form a holiday.Confide and captured in Syria and tortured for 1 year. Formally apologised to by Canadian president, not allowed to enter US. Paid millions dollars as apology.

Observations 1
Nothing to hide nothing to fear! Plenty of counter examples to this. Maureen Webb’s “Illusions of security post 9/11” book. Reflect pre-emptive war on terrorism; stop bad things from happening before. All based on your own identity and your records. Assessment of intent, imprecise and are casting a very wide net to catch and intervene people. Aversion of presumption of innocent, you are treated as unsafe. Claims for those systems is that this is going to achieve safety and security.

No-fly lists basics: Mid 1990s. In US not formal in EUROPE yet. System that is shown through block diagram. When you reserve, your name is sent and looked up in databases. Then sent back indicator to airline. So that when you check in, you could be called over for extra screening if there is a flag on your account. The extra screening means detained no flying or let through.

The future of airport security
This is being extended to the airport itself. Ways of assessing the risky ness of the individual based on the presentation of themselves in the waiting line. Your risk and intent, are you agitated, skin is sweaty, screening the way you walk, (Reading University)Paul Eckman, coaching immigration officials to read peoples faces to understand those that are in a queue. They will also listen to your conversations whilst in line.

US no-fly operations: Airline passenger profiling schemes.
Comp Aided Passenger Pre-screening System (CAPPS)
-Automated tracking of individuals
-ACLU concerns:Privacy invasive, Real terror risks, Ineffective, Unreliable

Biometric travel documents
ICAO, UK Biometric Passp0rt + ID card, EU propsed Biometric id
Would these systems actually hold back those from 9/11 attackers ?the 7/7 bombers? ID schemes do not stop such acts and have no past record of such activities. It’s not about identity so they are looking to detect one’s intent rather than your past. On what grounds can security systems be allowed: Four Part Test.

Observations 2
Security vs. Civil Liberties. This is security theatre. “Beyond Fear” Bruce Schneier security expert in US.Creation of fear is the intended outcome.


The Passage Oublier Project charts paths of flight of extraordinary rendition flights of those that are sent back home. One can send texts to the flights that go into the paths of the flights.

“Passage Oublié is an interactive artwork allowing the public to send messages to a touchscreen kiosk located in Pearson’s International Airport. Messages received are animated along flight trajectories on a map featuring airports involved in rendition flights. A rendition flight is a detainee-transfer practice where people, currently mostly Muslim men, are transported in rented commercial jets to interrogation sites around the world known as black sites. Although there exists a legal form of rendition to hand suspects over to another country, the procedure is also conducted outside any legal system, hence offering no protection for the detainees. Passage Oublié focuses on documented cases of such illegal renditions, known as “Extraordinary Renditions”, which surpass the number of legal renditions. The survivors of Extraordinary Renditions tell of numerous human rights violations. Passage Oublié invites Citizens of the World in transit at Pearson’s International Airport to send text messages relating to these questions: Are rendition flights an acceptable means of dealing with new terrorism threats? How does their use affect a country’s credibility as a defender of liberty? Does the end justify the means when it comes to pre-emptive war on terror? Are we compromising on the liberal democracies’ cherished principle of innocent-until-proven-guilty?”

More general: Travel difficulties is reflecting. Intelligent public discussion of risk. Ross Anderson: security expert. Terrorism is not a high risk, it is a small risk in comparison to other risk activities eg auto travel. Need some how to readdress and overcome the fear reactions. As long as the people have the intentions then unless we address those then we will still have to deal with designing safe living. Naomi Klein and Maureen Webb


The no clean list. Operation tarmac: immigrants and visa problems. Irrational security systems provoke new systems.When in Tucson, learnt about how immigrants are arrested and released. Their ID documents say that this person illegally entered the US border. No proof that a Mexican are terrorists involved in the US.

Greg Myers
Anxiety of there not being a visual sign of HIV/AIDS. Focus groups said that they did see the person was sick. We want and there will always be a residual mark if we want to see it and if there isn’t then that creates huge anxiety.What we can and cant see affects our anxiety.

Do we ever hear the voice of the “other” and not just the white middle class viewpoints. The articulation of safety and risk, who and what is the voice speaking and what it presupposes of the addressee and what are the implications of that. We align with the addressee, how do we shift position and get access to what the story would sound like from the other narrative voice. Eg Imogen’s youtube clips. Less publicized unsafe persons

Packaging: blair packages project design out insecurity. Brown design in protection. US foreign correspondent: smart borders. Future of American war on terror is smartpowers

Code orange All these are government Design strategies: for the popualtion to buy into it

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