Bruce Schneier writes about the latest discussions of what kind of risk cell phones could create when used in airplanes. When I started reading, I think this would be about the radiation disturbing airplane electronics, but no:
“If the mobile phone ban were lifted, law enforcement authorities worry an attacker could use the device to coordinate with accomplices on the ground, on another flight or seated elsewhere on the same plane.
If mobile phone calls are to be allowed during flights, the law enforcement agencies urged that users be required to register their location on a plane before placing a call and that officials have fast access to call identification data.”
And – in typical Schneier-style, here’s his analysis:
“This is beyond idiotic. Again and again, we hear the argument that a particular technology can be used for bad things, so we have to ban or control it. The problem is that when we ban or control a technology, we also deny ourselves some of the good things it can be used for. Security is always a trade-off. Almost all technologies can be used for both good and evil; in Beyond Fear, I call them “dual use” technologies. Most of the time, the good uses far outweigh the evil uses, and we’re much better off as a society embracing the good uses and dealing with the evil uses some other way.
We don’t ban cars because bank robbers can use them to get away faster. We don’t ban cell phones because drug dealers use them to arrange sales. We don’t ban money because kidnappers use it. And finally, we don’t ban cryptography because the bad guys it to keep their communications secret. In all of these cases, the benefit to society of having the technology is much greater than the benefit to society of controlling, crippling, or banning the technology.”
There’s a risk bigger than bombs here: if this goes on, the terrorists have already won by destroying the most valuable asset of todays societies: personal freedom, and the right to live without fear.