Mikey Doesn’t Like It: Watchlists Are Not For Kids

You may also like...

6 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    The TSA blog post is not spot on: it is not inevitable that they are incompetent, nor is it inevitable that they are unable to write procedures to better manage these situations; and finally, it is not inevitable that they have a set of processes that force their employees to disregard their common sense.

    That’s three ways they are wrong in the first 10 words.

  2. Danielle Citron says:

    Adam, I concur in your criticisms. My spot on comment referred to the preceding sentence where TSA’s Blogger Bob says that Mikey’s not on the list, someone with a name close to his or with his name is. That’s the way the crude algorithms work with a policy choice in mind: as Ed Felten notes, it is a construction designed to have more false positives. I agree with your criticisms that we could do it better all around. Thanks so much.

  3. Bruce Boyden says:

    “There are no children on the No Fly or Selectee lists. What happens is the child’s name is a match or similar match to an actual individual on the No Fly or Selectee Watch List.”

    This strikes me as a meaningless distinction.

  4. Ken Rhodes says:

    “There are no children on the No Fly or Selectee lists. What happens is the child’s name is a match or similar match to an actual individual on the No Fly or Selectee Watch List.”

    This strikes me as a meaningless distinction.
    ============================
    I do not see it as meaningless, but I see a pretty lame choice of words that leaves that impression.

    A “No Fly List” is not a list of names, it’s a list of people. Those people are not to be allowed to fly. A “Watch List,” on the other hand, is keyed by name, so if you share a name with a person on a No Fly list, you will be “watched,” which equates to “examined, searched, delayed, and generally annoyed.”

    A real problem the TSA hasn’t figured out how to solve is to get people to understand what’s going on. They contribute mightily to the misunderstandings by their own ineptitude with telling us about it. On their website they have a “Mythbusters” page that tells us this:

    Myth
    The “No Fly” List includes an 8 year old boy.

    Buster
    No 8-year-old is on a TSA watch list.

    See, that’s wrong. What they mean is that no 8-year-old is on a TSA No Fly list. But when they ineptly miswrite their own “Myth Buster” web page, they make it hard for us to be patient with them and their problems.

  5. “There are no children on the No Fly or Selectee lists.”

    This may be true, but it seems like many ground-level screeners don’t know it.

    If it were announced to the screeners, then Mikey would stop being stopped, right?

  6. Bruce Boyden says:

    Imagine 2 travellers. One is on the watch list, and one has a name similar to someone on the watch list. If both of them are delayed, hassled, and searched each and every time they fly, then what exactly is the advantage of not actually being on the watch list?