Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Security Theater

In my "Tools" post of yesterday, I got off track from geekiness to tools. In my work life I deal at times with security issues, and my original intent yesterday was to link to one of my favs in the security arena, Bruce Schneier.

In view of the recent terrorism and airline security news, check out ), and see if you don’t agree that Bruce makes a ton of sense.

One of Bruce's main points is that what passes for security is really just “security theater.” And as he points out, “Security theater consumes resources that could better be spent elsewhere.” May as well let Bruce ramble (but please do read the whole article!):

By not overreacting, by not responding to movie-plot threats, and by not becoming defensive, we demonstrate the resilience of our society, in our laws, our culture, our freedoms. There is a difference between indomitability and arrogant "bring 'em on" rhetoric. There's a difference between accepting the inherent risk that comes with a free and open society, and hyping the threats.
We should treat terrorists like common criminals and give them all the benefits of true and open justice -- not merely because it demonstrates our indomitability, but because it makes us all safer. Once a society starts circumventing its own laws, the risks to its future stability are much greater than terrorism.
Supporting real security even though it's invisible, and demonstrating indomitability even though fear is more politically expedient, requires real courage. Demagoguery is easy. What we need is leaders willing both to do what's right and to speak the truth.
Despite fearful rhetoric to the contrary, terrorism is not a transcendent threat. A terrorist attack cannot possibly destroy a country's way of life; it's only our reaction to that attack that can do that kind of damage. The more we undermine our own laws, the more we convert our buildings into fortresses, the more we reduce the freedoms and liberties at the foundation of our societies, the more we're doing the terrorists' job for them.

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