ABA Forum 2010: Aviation Security and the Privacy Fulcrum

October 26, 2010 at 9:32 am | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event, Blogcast | Leave a comment

By P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

The first panel of the conference was Aviation Security and the Privacy Fulcrum and was moderated by Stephen J. McHale, Patton Boggs, LLP. Panelists included Brian Alseth, ACLU; Stewart Baker, Steptoe and Johnson; Christopher Bidwell, Airports Council International – North America; and Margo Schlanger, Department of Homeland Security. The panel focused on the intersection of security and privacy issues in airport security. Specific reference was made to how evolving technologies and methodologies affect these issues.

Schlanger began with comments on home DHS and TSA work to create policies that support civil liberties. She stated that this was done internally but with a great deal of input from stakeholders, whom she stated were involved throughout the policy making process. She also stated that once policies are created that there is training to ensure that implementation is done effectively. Finally, she said that there are outreach and redress procedures in order to make sure that concerned stakeholders understand policies and have a way to give feedback on them.

Alseth’s initial comments focused on striking the balance between security and privacy. He stated that he felt one of the major problems in the security process was the knee-jerk implementation of new technology after incidents. He said that the ACLU wasn’t concerned about new technology, but rather was concerned with the effectiveness of these implementation and the protection of privacy during this implementation.

Baker started by discussing his research into the history of aviation terrorism and the technology involved. He stated that in the past there has been a systemic problem in implementation of new technologies and stated that there has been a specific risk involved with the ineffectual use of these technologies.

Bidwell noted that the top priority in the aviation industry was to ensure the safety of passengers. He noted that there was a disconnect in the perception of passengers, however. He stated that passengers see a procedure, regardless of where the new procedure originates, it is associated with the airport. He then stated that communication was key in order to ensure that passengers understand the reasoning behind new policies and technologies. He also highlighted how implementation of new technologies create costs for airports, which means that careful analysis of these new technologies is crucial in order to both ensure safety and the ability of airports to effectively implement the new technologies.

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