Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


The Control Impulse, The Security Canard, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Flyertalk brings us the story of Continental Airlines and Boston’s Logan Airport having a little spat.
The core of the dispute is that Continental offers its customers Wifi access for free. But Boston wants to charge for it. Boston has always had a bit of a control thing. That’s not unique. There are lots of people who are drawn to the order bits of ‘law and order.’

In Boston, they seem to find it…disorderly to have these upstarts offering people something for free that they want to sell. Their business model is under threat, and something must be done.

In a free market, they could compete. They could offer higher speed. Better caching. More security. A cup of coffee with every login. But no. These people believe in order, not the messiness of the market.

So, rather than simply admitting they like the money, they’re invoking security:

Last month, a Massport attorney warned the airline that its antenna “presents an unacceptable potential risk” to Logan’s safety and security systems, including its keycard access system and state police communications.

If that’s true, Massport authorities need to be taken out and shot. Because if I can plug in a $20 Wifi router and break the keycard access system or state police communications, someone has been not just negligent, but criminally incompetent in their choice of technologies.

Massport offers this very same service for sale. So perhaps it doesn’t interfere with the keycard system at all. Of course, we knew that. As does everyone else. And so, what we see is that Massport is lying to us, and using security as an excuse.

What’s going to happen when they need their credibility?