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Blogging background checking and security issues

4.01.2005

Open Society – Openness versus Privacy

Dennis Bailey of Open Society Paradox mentions that the Transportation and Security Administration’s Registered Traveler program has been very successful. It allows frequent flyers to submit to a background check, and after that they can go through the “express” security check.

I am very intrigued by Dennis Bailey’s “Open Society” ideas. A person with nothing to hide has nothing to fear. This is the whole idea behind the emphasis on confession in the Roman Catholic Church, right? It’s very difficult to live with your own failings, but if you take the risk of sharing them with someone else without being condemned by that person then you experience a sense of freedom and forgiveness.

Exposure involves accountability, and in this case voluntarily allowing the TSA to do a background check ensures, in theory, that no convicted criminals are traveling the airways. There is the quality of the background check that is done that needs to be taken into account (just because it’s done by the government doesn’t automatically mean it’s flawless), but in theory it seems like a good idea. I would still be concerned about those individuals, however, who are criminally-minded but smart enough not to have yet been caught. These are the people who can often be the most dangerous.

In general Dennis Bailey’s ideas provide a lot of food for thought. What would an open society look like? It would probably provide incentive to avoid criminal activity, but what would those people do who have a less than sterling history? Does it provide any room for a second chance? I’ve never been convicted of a crime, but I’m far from perfect. I would imagine that completely embracing such a philosophy could potentially create a society of priggish snobs. I haven’t read all of his materials, so maybe he addresses this concern. I don’t mean any offense to Dennis Bailey - I really am intrigued by his ideas. I just have a few reservations.

2 Comments:

  • At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Exposure involves accountability, and in this case voluntarily allowing the TSA to do a background check ensures, in theory, that no convicted criminals are traveling the airways.

    Really? It ensures that no convicted criminals are in the fast lane. They may still fly. Although, its not clear to me why a conviction, for say, tax evasion should prevent someone from using the low-security lane.

     
  • At 8:09 AM, Blogger Geoff said…

    You're correct - I didn't conclude that sentence correctly. It just aims to keep convicted criminals out of the low-security entrance. I would assume that the TSA would take into account the nature of the individual's criminal history in a way that is similar to what is done in employment screening. There, if a component of the background check doesn't apply to the job then the employer might have a difficult time defending any adverse action related to that component. However, I wouldn't necessarily trust the TSA to always make the right decision. I wonder what recourse a person has when barred by the TSA from the fast lane for information that is inaccurate.

     

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