"Security theater” is a term that was first used in Bruce Schneier’s book Beyond Fear (2003). Schneier wrote, “But some countermeasures provide the feeling of security instead of the reality. These are nothing more than security theater. They’re palliative at best.”
The term “security theater” became popular after the attacks of September 11, 2001, describing many of the new security measures that went into effect (especially at airports). Very few air passengers are terrorists; the “theater” of having all passengers remove their shoes—among other security measures—is an example of the “security theater” term, providing passengers a theatrical show of imagined security.
Other “theater” terms include “grievance theater,” “enforcement theater” and “shutdown theater.”
Wikipedia: Security theater
Security theater is a term that describes security countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually improve security. The term was coined by computer security specialist and writer Bruce Schneier for his book Beyond Fear, but has gained currency in security circles, particularly for describing airport security measures. It is also used by some experts such as Edward Felten to describe the airport security repercussions due to the September 11 attacks.
Theater of the Absurd at the T.S.A. For theater on a grand scale, you can’t do better than the audience-participation dramas performed at airports, under the direction of the Transportation Security Administration. ... The T.S.A.’s profession of outrage is nothing but ‘security theater,’ Mr. Schneier said, using the phrase he coined in 2003 to describe some of the agency’s procedures.
—The New York Times; December 17, 2006
Report: Plane Lighter Ban to Be Lifted. Airline passengers will be able to bring many types of cigarette lighters on board again starting next month after authorities found that a ban on the devices did little to make flying safer, a newspaper reported Friday. ‘Taking lighters away is security theater,’ Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley told The (New York) Times in an interview.
—Associated Press; July 20, 2007
Thinking sensibly about security in an uncertain world
By Bruce Schneier
New York, NY: Copernicus Books
In Chapter 1, I wrote that security is partially a state of mind. If this is true, then one of the goals of a security countermeasure is to provide people with a feeling of security in addition to the reality. But some countermeasures provide the feeling of security instead of the reality. These are nothing more than security theater. They’re palliative at best.
1 September 2003, Toronto (Ontario) Star “Security-as-theatre intrusive, ineffective; Smoke and mirrors security fails” by Tyler Hamilton, pg. D4:
Security expert Bruce Schneier likes to call it “security theatre.” “Elected government officials are concerned about re-election and need to be seen by the public as doing something to improve security.”
July 25, 2004
Security Theater: Security expert draws DHS ire in Boston
Richard Forno http://www.infowarrior.org
SECURITY THEATER: A term first coined by security technologist Bruce Schneier in his 2003 book “Beyond Fear” to describe what generally passes for “security” these days—namely presenting the appearance (and reassuring illusion) of security (or improved security) despite however ineffective in reality such postures really are to those who know what real security is all about. Also a favored approach to security by the United States government, even after September 11.
New York (NY) Times
Theater of the Absurd at the T.S.A.
By RANDALL STROSS
Published: December 17, 2006
FOR theater on a grand scale, you can’t do better than the audience-participation dramas performed at airports, under the direction of the Transportation Security Administration.
But Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer at BT Counterpane, a security consulting firm in Mountain View, Calif., emphatically disagreed. Anybody with Photoshop could create a fake boarding pass, he said. Mr. Soghoian’s Web site simply eliminated the need to use Photoshop. The T.S.A.’s profession of outrage is nothing but “security theater,” Mr. Schneier said, using the phrase he coined in 2003 to describe some of the agency’s procedures.
OCLC WorldCat record
WAITING FOR THE END OF THE WORLD: A 1978 bomb shelter is the ultimate Cold War relic- and an extreme version of the “security theater” still prevalent today
Author: M C Pedersen
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Bellerophon Publications, 1981-
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Metropolis. 30, no. 10, (2011): 88-93