07 May 2010

Bureaucratic or effective?

The secretary of Interpol talks [pdf] about terrorism and security:
What frustrates me, as secretary general and this is relevant in light of what happened in Dubai in the case of the individuals accused of having assassinated a Hamas leader—is that in 2009 there were over 500 million international air arrivals where passports were not checked against Interpol’s database, which contains records on over 11 million stolen passports and 9 million other identity documents.

At the same time, if you or I are traveling internationally via the United States or Europe, we are required to take off our shoes and belts, give up our bags and our computers, and sacrifice whatever liquids we might not have consumed before passing through security. We do that for everyone.

But each year, there are 500 million international air arrivals whose passports aren’t screened against Interpol’s database. And we have the technology to identify false passports being used by war criminals, terrorists, assassins, drug traffickers, and fraudsters. That’s what is most shocking and frustrating to me.

1 comment:

  1. If you read Malcolm Gladwell's "What the dog saw," you will find many causes for this deficiency. Two of them are a huge number of false positives and the inability to analyze the huge data flow in real time.

    For instance, the 1973 Yom Kippur war looks certain in retrospect but there were many apparent invasions in that year all but one of which were imaginary. For Enron, a person could have figured out what was going on if they were willing to read and understand 3,000,000 pages of freely available text.

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