Dynamist Blog

Search vs. Surveillance

On my recent visit to London, I was struck by the difference between U.S. security procedures and British ones. In London, you are videotaped--and told you are being videotaped--everywhere. But you can walk into a crowded train station or an art museum filled with tourists and priceless treasures without showing anyone the contents of your bag. Even airport security is much more casual than the ritualistic shoe stripping and computer segregation of U.S. airports. I'm not convinced that either surveillance or routine search does much to prevent terrorist attacks. But, while less avoidable (at least in theory), the British way is certainly less intrusive. I'd rather be watched than searched.

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