Monday, June 25, 2007

Tourism in the Control Society

The Smart Mobs Blog points to a text about a biometric scanning program at JFK Airport called Clear, created by a company named Verified Identity Pass. It also pointed to a Register piece about a UK push for collaborative biometric surveillance with the US.

The Clear program shows how biometric technology is being developed to extend the automatic delegation of privileges we currently find in private toll roads, where those with access to early technology and financial capital benefit from better maintained roads and less traffic. Only here, passengers that pay the $99.95 per year fee, and submit data linked to fingerprints and iris scans, will be able to pass through security points without the lines and searches most of us now go through. Clear, offers to get its customers in the "fast lane," but a fast lane necessitates a "slow lane." This is what geographer Stephen Graham and others have termed "software sorted geographies," spaces of privilege that are managed and regulated by computer systems. Of course, this can easily fall into the trap of technological determinism, but the materialist nature of the critical observations are equal to the futurism/determinism here I think.

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