Nearly seven out of 10 New Zealanders are prepared to sacrifice some privacy for greater security during air travel, the latest Unisys bi-annual Security Index shows.
They are willing to undergo a range of procedures, such as full body scans and biometric identification to increase aviation security and enable more efficient passenger processing.
However, the finding does not appear to be linked to actual concern about National security in the war on terrorism. Only 29 percent report they are very or extremely concerned on that front. A further 29 percent report they are concerned while the remainder, 42 percent are unconcerned or don't know (1 percent).
In comparison, 35 percent are very or extremely concerned about a serious health epidemic.
Launched in New Zealand in September 2006, the Unisys Security Index is conducted by market research company Consumer Link. It measures concerns about four areas of security: national, financial, internet and personal.
The index, as of April 10, stands at 115/300, with just a 2-point increase from the previous survey, last October. The most significant changes are in the number of people are now “very” or “extremely” concerned about their personal safety over the next six months – up by around 230,000 people.
Concern about computer security in relation to viruses or unsolicited emails rose by around 190,000 people.
The top three areas of concern as of April are: other people obtaining credit card/debit card details; unauthorised access to or misuse of personal information; computer security in relation to viruses or unsolicited emails.
Additional research relating to privacy shows that 66% of people surveyed are willing to submit to a full electronic body scan at an airport; 67% are willing to prove their identity using biometric data; and 75% are willing to provide personal data in advance, such as a driver’s licence or passport details.
When asked about increased surveillance in a number of specific circumstances, 62% were in favour of employers increasing surveillance of workers’ internet usage; 69% were in favour of banks increasing surveillance of people’s credit card usage; and 86% were in favour of the police increasing surveillance on roads and highways.
Only 39% were in favour of the Government increasing surveillance of personal internet usage.
Unisys managing director Brett Hodgson says aviation security is again a strong concern for New Zealanders in light of recent incidents.
“These results are a real eye opener, illustrating that those who travel by air are willing to participate in measures that could make their travels easier.
“Aviation regulators should take note of the public’s approval of these security measures, regardless of privacy concerns, which indicates there is support for more stringent measures.”