Keywords: terrorism risks, death, civil liberties, costs, tradeoffs, Norway, USA, United States, critical infrastructures, privacy intrusion, privacy protection, privacy preservation, waiting times, airport passengers, passenger screening, infrastructure protection, anti–terrorism investment, combatting terrorism
Terrorism risks, civil liberties, and privacy concerns
Transportation of people plays a major role in our critical infrastructures. The article seeks to determine our willingness to protect our infrastructures balanced against sacrificing civil liberties. Respecting civil liberties is operationalised as screening all airport passengers equally. The cost incurred is operationalised as additional waiting time for airport passengers when civil liberties are respected. 93% of airport passengers are willing to wait ten minutes to uphold civil liberties through screening all passengers rather than targeted screening. The percentage drops to 61%, 27%, 10% for waiting 30, 60, 100 minutes. In a comparative study, waiting less than half an hour is considerably more acceptable for the Norwegian respondents than for the US respondents. More than half the respondents prefer no privacy intrusion into mail, e–mail, telephones to prevent terrorism. The average respondent supports the government's investment to combat terrorism, with the asymmetry that 20% respond too low and 15% respond far too high investment. The similarities between Norway and the USA are more salient than the differences. One policy implication is that there are substantial gains to be made in people's willingness to uphold civil liberties if they are made to wait less than 40 minutes, and lower gains for larger waiting times.