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Security theater describes the implementation of security and surveillance measures that create the appearance and feeling of security, without actually improving genuine security. The term is generally critical and somewhat derisive in tone: It suggests that whatever measures are being taken are mere window dressing that (at best) are ineffective and unnecessary and (at worst) actually make us less secure by misallocating attention and resources away from real risks and threats. The term is most typically employed in counterterrorism contexts, especially in the context of air travel security measures taken after September 11, 2001. Security theater involves the optics of security—high-visibility measures that appear to be addressing threats, while the genuine risks to security may, in fact, be quite inchoate in nature and more difficult ...

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