Quantifying Individuals' Trade-Offs Between Privacy, Liberty & Security: the Case of Rail Travel in U.K.

Topics: Security, Public transport, Security guard Pages: 20 (6338 words) Published: December 12, 2012
Quantifying individuals' trade-offs between privacy, liberty & security: The case of rail travel in U.K.

Public transport systems have been targets in several terrorist attacks, notably in recent years, resulting in tight security measures worldwide. However, individuals' privacy and liberty often conflict with efforts towards safety and security, making it difficult to assess the benefits of security measures balanced against the costs (e.g. citizens may be stopped, searched and asked to provide personal identification data to authorities without any particular reason). Henceforth, our research question asks, "to what extend would legitimate citizens sacrifice their privacy and liberty rights in exchange for potentially safer and more secure travel?" This paper uses a stated choice experiment to quantify individuals' trade-offs between privacy and security within a real-life context, namely rail travel in the UK. Using a nationwide sample, the empirical analysis yields the importance of improvements in the security infrastructure and identifies areas of concern with regard to privacy and liberty controlling for travel related factors. Further, trade-offs across different security improvements for rail travel are quantified in terms of individuals' willingness to pay extra on top of the average ticket price. Introduction

Following terrorist attacks targeting public transport systems worldwide, safety and security have become a top priority in the policy agenda of many countries, and particularly the UK. Security measures for air travel have historically received a great deal of attention, but security authorities are now increasingly having to focus upon land-based mass transit systems. These have become a target for terrorist groups due to their vulnerability and ease of access arising from their intrinsically open nature. Additionally, mass transit systems can be both the means and the target for the attack. Terrorists understand how the widespread use of such transportation infrastructure under the fear of terrorist attack has the potential to cause mass panic, disruption and fear.

Recent well known examples include the Madrid bombings of 11 March 2004 and the London bombings of 7th July 2005. In Madrid a series of bombs exploded within minutes on 4 packed commuter trains, killing 191 people and injuring 1,841 (BBC News 2004). On the 7th July 2005, bombs exploded on three Tube trains and a bus in Central London. The subsequent London Assembly report from the July bombings concluded that plans, systems and processes that are intended to provide a framework for the response to major incidents in London must be revised and improved (Greater London Authority 2006). In responding to such targeting, the security authorities must adapt a wide range of policy measures to mitigate the risk of such events occurring, and to deal with the consequences if they do.

A range of measures may be adopted by authorities in seeking to deal with these challenges. In the UK, these have included legislation and regulations as well as other measures such as campaigns raising awareness of the risk of attacks. Additionally, the UK Department of Transport’s Transport Security and Contingencies Team (TRANSEC) (UK Dept. for Transport 2006) has an important role to play in regard to security arrangements for multi-modal transportation systems. The picture is complicated by the fact that many of these transportation systems are privately owned. Potential compromise of individuals’ privacy and liberty is a countervailing concern. It must be recognised that increased security measures - in many cases - require travellers' compliance with privacy intrusive procedures including screening, release of personal data and even an additional cost in the price of ticket and possible delays. Once implemented, there is considerable pressure to retain such measures as an intelligence gathering tool to pre-empt further attacks. Civil liberties...
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