Over at Freedom To Tinker, my friend Paul Ohm has a good analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones. This is the “GPS privacy” case that’s been in the news today. Paul is a lawyer and law professor at the University of Colorado Law School and one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.
This is why I am not overly concerned about the recent invasive screening techniques used by the TSA. The balance between freedom and security is a zero-sum game. Increase security and freedoms decrease. Increase freedoms and security decreases. Americans will tolerate only so much before they will do what they are best at–revolt. Congress is listening because they have to–the very people being felt-up by airport security staff are the same people who put Congress in office. With the Congress involved it is only a matter of time. Pistole, the head of the TSA has said that he’s not going to change the policies. Fast forward to the not-too-distant future where he’ll likely issue a quiet memorandum, backing out of the policies which many people say border on sexual harassment.
There is a call to boycott the screenings on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. It will be interesting to see how that works out. For me it comes down to a risk assessment: how much you value your freedom over how likely it seems to you that someone can sneak explosives on board an aircraft through existing security mechanism. I think the TSA has gone too far, but I’m not concerned because John Tyner’s, “Don’t touch my junk” will resonate with the public and with Congress in the same way that Roosevelt’s “little dog Fala” did. And the pendulum will begin to swing back the other way.