Could Better use of Technology have Stopped the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Tragedy?

Last night, many of us went to sleep with the knowledge that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was missing and this morning the news broke that the plane hasn’t been found. Considering it is virtually impossible to steal a Boeing 777, the options at this point aren’t looking good. My sincerest sympathies go out to the poor families of those onboard.

When news broke this morning that at least two people traveling onboard the flight were using stolen passports, it became quite plausable that the reason for the flight’s dissapearance had to do with terrorism.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The father of an Italian national listed on board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 said that his son was not on board and his passport had been stolen in Thailand a year and a half ago.

Walter Maraldi said his son, Luigi Maraldi, was alive and well and had obtained another passport in Italy after it was stolen.

Austria’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday that another passenger on the list, a 30-year-old Austrian, wasn’t on board. His passport was stolen in Thailand in 2012, a ministry spokesman said, confirming a report in German newspaper Die Welt.

Assuming these passports were reported as stolen, then the natural question is how could they be used to get on flights? In fact, even if this plane somehow ends up to be intact, we should be asking how this happened.

We live in a highly-secure global world where the likelihood of a person sneezing and one or more governments not being able to see the sneeze is approaching zero percent. Moreover, the flight was going to China, where the government literally knows everything about its citizens. They censor websites, they block sites, they prosecute dissenters. Yet they let people in the country using stolen passports?

The question which must be asked is how did this happen and in today’s day and age where the NSA records everything and virtually every spy agency in the world does the same – how can stolen passports be used?

The unfortunate result of this incident may be lawmakers beginning to call for a global citizens registry – something surveillance-weary populations would be loathe to see happen. But this is a likely proposal we can expect from many big-government types.

I’d like to go on record ahead of time by saying this isn’t necesary. Once a passport is identified as stolen it should be dead-easy to spot it in the wild. With the many billions of dollars being spent on global security, the fact that even one stolen passport slipped through the cracks is inexcusable. Technology should have enabled us to catch the stolen passports and could have potentially saved hundreds of lives.

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