Every time I come face to face with the useless airport security mechanisms employed in this country, and being adopted in others, I grind my teeth in frustration at how stupid the whole charade is. We’ve been told that we need to surrender privacy to increase security, but is that really true? As Bruce Schneier writes in his latest Crypto-Gram newsletter:> Security and privacy are not opposite ends of a seesaw; you don’t have to accept less of one to get more of the other. Think of a door lock, a burglar alarm and a tall fence. Think of guns, anti-counterfeiting measures on currency and that dumb liquid ban at airports. Security affects privacy only when it’s based on identity, and there are limitations to that sort of approach.

Since 9/11, approximately three things have potentially improved airline security: reinforcing the cockpit doors, passengers realizing they have to fight back, and – possibly – sky marshals. Everything else – all the security measures that affect privacy – is just security theater and a waste of effort.

By the same token, many of the anti-privacy “security” measures we’re seeing – national ID cards, warrantless eavesdropping, massive data mining, and so on – do little to improve, and in some cases harm, security. And government claims of their success are either wrong, or against fake threats.

The debate isn’t security versus privacy. It’s liberty versus control.