Media Overplays Airport Security Issue2

However, in addition to irresponsible and inaccurate headlines, the news outlets above painted the issue almost solely as one of individual human rights and issues of privacy. (Note: The Australian used AFP copy while the SMH relied on Reuters.)

The direction or balance of an article can be influenced by what is omitted as much as what is included. So credit to the Associated Press for balancing its own reporting of this story with some extra context (emphasis added):

One aspect of the issue is that most people entering Israel obtain visas at the airport or other border crossings. Unlike many countries, Israel does not require people to obtain visas from their embassies in advance of their trips, eliminating possible screening before visitors arrive in Israel.

In contrast, Israelis themselves are required to obtain visas far in advance before visiting many countries. Even the US requires an exhaustive interview process at its embassy in Tel Aviv, and it does not grant visas to all who apply. Iranian-born Israelis, for example, are often refused visas.

The practice of email checks appears to be a step beyond what some Western countries allow, while others permit similar measures.

Germany does not allow such searches. The US Department of Homeland Security has seized computers and other electronic devices from people arriving in the United States to search them.

In a narrow ruling last month, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that while Customs and Border Protection officers can do “a quick look” at a laptop computer or other equipment, reasonable suspicion is required for a more in-depth forensic exam of electronics. It was not immediately clear if that included email.

Pointedly, the Daily Telegraph also republished the AP story except it chose to edit out the above paragraphs.

Credit, at least, to the Star Tribune, which used the following headline to accompany its AP story:

The unfortunate reality is that Israel, perhaps more than any other country, has to place security over everything else when it comes to its borders. Like every other state, Israel has the sovereign right to decide who is allowed to enter its territory, including foreign activists who may be hiding their intention to cause trouble.

You can take action by writing to The Guardian –, The Australian –, and the Sydney Morning Herald –

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Image: CC BY-SA, flickr/mobileedgelaptopbags.

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