The Institute - March 2007 - 5

Marketpl ace O f I d e as
Responses to December's Question

Big Brother in the Sky
Developers working on a project called Security of Aircraft in the
Future European Environment claim new on-board technology will be
foolproof against hijackers. The system uses sensors, cameras, and
microphones to monitor passengers' behavior. In an emergency, an
autopilot would automatically be activated to land the plane safely.
Is the increased safety worth being so strictly monitored and giving
up so much of your privacy?
Secure Service
Having spent the better part of the past
decade as a technologist working with
airline industry "passenger service"
managers, I took up the saying "There's
no passenger service without security."
The best meals, friendliest cabin crew,
and most comfortable seats cannot compensate for less-than-maximum security
and safety.
I only hope the Security of Aircraft
in the Future European Environment
program expands to worldwide use and
truly is a multitiered program. It should
include speech stress recognition and
language translation/interpretation
algorithms, as well as real-time secure
connectivity to threat databases, with key
information disseminated to crew and
in-flight law enforcement personnel.
Giving up what privacy? Give me the
ultimate passenger service-use every
technology and tool available to keep
us safe!
Bedminster, Pa.

Surrounded by Strangers
There is nothing I do on a plane that
requires any level of privacy that could be
exploited to endanger my fellow passen-

gers. If, however, I needed to do something privately, such as work on secure
documents on behalf of my company's
business, why would I ever consider
doing that in the middle of a bunch of
strangers on a plane?
Bragg Creek, Alta., Canada

How Foolproof?
Your question is based on a false premise: open cabins and personal recording equipment eliminate the aural and
visual privacy of all commercial airline
passengers. Instead, it's worth asking
whether such a system can ever be foolproof, or whether the risk reduction
achievable with current technology is
worth the cost.
Herndon, Va.

No Privacy in Public
Common sense-not to mention a U.S.
Supreme Court decision that says you have
no reasonable right of privacy when in public venues, such as on the street, in public
conveyances (buses, trains, and planes), or
in public buildings-makes your question
moot. The monitoring of behavior in any
public place must be accepted. However,

I will fight to the death for the right to
privacy inside my home or automobile, as
well as privacy behind a closed stall door,
even in a public restroom.
Maitland, Fla.

Balancing Act
Security on aircraft is certainly a critical
concern these days. Some people may be
sensitive about sharing their personal
data; however, a responsible government is duty-bound to guard its citizens
from attack.
But security relies on technology. And
technology can be used to track people's
activities without their consent-which
might be considered an invasion of
privacy. Therefore, government must
explain why it intends to deploy such
technology. Also, legislation should
limit the use of personal data for safety
purposes. Safety and privacy are not the
same, and it's important to ensure that
they are both handled properly.
Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Fools on Parade
Instead of answering whether we'd be
willing to trade privacy for security in the
case of automated surveillance systems
on aircraft, perhaps we'd be better off
asking whether we actually believe the
government can implement such foolproof systems.
Would we be trading privacy for security, or privacy for extremely expensive
incompetence? My bet is on the latter; socalled foolproof systems are no match for
the new and improved fools constantly
coming out of Washington, D.C.
Chaska, Minn.

This Month's Question

Will a Toned-Down
YouTube Tank?
YouTube, the video-sharing Web site
owned by Google, became popular by
allowing users to upload almost any
video, but that may soon change.
YouTube has promised to use antipiracy software to track down and
remove content that violates copyright law. Critics say taking down that
content will lead to the Web site's
demise because YouTube thrives on
the free sharing of popular copyrighted TV shows and movie clips.
How do you think the antipiracy
crackdown will affect the popularity
of YouTube?
Respond to this question
by e-mail or regular mail. Space
may not permit publication of all
responses, but we'll try to draw a
representative sample. Responses
will appear in the June issue of
The Institute and may be edited for
brevity. Suggestions for questions
are welcome.
The Institute
IEEE Operations Center
445 Hoes Lane
Piscataway, NJ 08855-1331 USA
FAX: +1 732 235 1626

All Things (Not) Considered
About "Spam Filtering, Anyone?" [December, p. 10], perhaps I did not read the fine
print, but when the filtering service was
introduced, I thought it was to be applied
to all aliases by default. That is why I never
signed up for the filtering service. This
misconception was not considered in the
article as a possible reason for members
not taking advantage of the service.
Fairfax, Va.

Robert V. Jones, staff director for IEEE
Information Technology Infrastructure and

Operations, responds: To comply with a
recommendation made at the 2002 IEEE
Sections Congress, the IEEE Unsolicited
Commercial E-mail Filtering Service
was not applied to all IEEE e-mail aliases.
The recommendation called for an opt-in
arrangement to allow members to choose
their own level of spam filtering and not
leave it to the IEEE. Questions about the
IEEE UCE Filtering Service should be
directed to

Working Group Suggestions
Regarding "Standards Uproar Leads
to Working Group Overhaul" [Decem-

ber, p. 1], the IEEE Standards Association should be commended for taking
action, although it apparently took a
while to do so.
I'm sure that this problem [of working group members not voting as individuals, but instead representing their
companies' interests] has occurred in the
past, and more steps are needed to avoid
it in the future.
First, I suggest a committee chair be
chosen who is not associated with the
technology of the particular standard or
the companies represented.
Second, I don't think it's fair to allow

representatives of the same employer to
have more than one independent vote.
I suggest that "approval votes" should
be limited to one per company, regardless of the number of representatives on
the committee.
Third, in the future the ethical
issues related to this problem should be
addressed, even leading to the loss of
IEEE membership and its privileges for
the worst violators.
Richardson, Texas
Senior Member LeEarl Bryant was the
2002 IEEE-USA President

The Institute | March 2007

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