thewayne: (Default)
In case you're not up on this, a gentleman who is apparently a self-proclaimed anti-TSA activist decided to run an experiment. He bought a small sewing kit, some cloth, and basically created a sort of shoulder holster that would hold a small metal object against the side of his body. He was confident that said metal object would set off airport checkpoint alarms. He went through an airport x-ray machine, and the machine did not blink an eye.

He did this not only once, but twice. And he caught it on video. And he's challenged media to do the same thing.

Apparently the TSA isn't very happy about this. Disregard that previous stories have talked about this weakness, among others, for ages.
thewayne: (Default)
TSA agents in Dallas singled out female passengers to undergo screening in a body scanner, according to complaints filed by several women who said they felt the screeners intentionally targeted them to view their bodies. Allegedly, women with 'cute bodies' were directed through the body scanners up to three times over by female agents, who appeared to be acting on a request from male agents viewing the scans in a separate room. Apparently this was done because the scans were 'blurry,' possibly due to autofocus problems with agents' smartphone cameras." After hearing the claims, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced plans to introduce legislation that would require the presence of "passenger advocates" at airports to deal with complaints like these.

I'm shocked to find out gambling is going on at Rick's!

"Besides having to remove our shoes, the volume limitations regarding liquids and gels in carry-on baggage has become a major hassle in the world of post 9-11 airport security. Hopefully, however, we may soon be able to once again bring our big bottles of water and tubes of toothpaste aboard airliners in our overnight bags. Britain's Cobalt Light Systems has developed a scanner called the INSIGHT100, that uses laser light to assess the liquid contents of containers, even if those containers are opaque."

I don't get this ability to scan through an opaque container. They claim a false positive rate of 0.5%, which I'd love to see field tested. It would also probably bottleneck security checkpoints even more since everyone would now be bringing liquids rather than most people being smart enough to dump their bottle of water before going through and buying even more expensive water on the other side of the checkpoint.
thewayne: (Default)
Australia getting full-body x-ray scanners in airports. At least they're displaying stick figures, not full outllines, though probably full outlines are stored internally.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
I think this is a good idea.

Then, as I was skimming the Slashdot comments, I came across one that pointed me to this page on the TSA's web site titled "U.S. Army Public Health Command surveys of backscatter imaging technology and cabinet X-ray systems". The Army has surveyed at least 13 airports, looking at all body scanners and some security portal baggage scanners. The page states "In the spirit of transparency, TSA has posted results of radiation surveys conducted on every piece of X-ray based technology in U.S. airports as the reports were completed. Following are surveys of checked and carry-on baggage screening equipment". So presumably all airports will be tested and eventually posted, my preferred airports, El Paso and Phoenix, are not yet on the list. The first study was done April 2010 at Boston, the most recent November 2011.

I downlaoded and read the report for Seattle/Tacoma, one of the most recent. There were no radiation issues, the dose to workers were well below FDA standards, so presumably they are safe for would-be passenders to be scanned. The Seattle report did note some problems, but they were maintenance and procedural and probably not safety issues.

So do I feel better about these things? Well, I suppose. They would appear safe. I'm still uncomfortable with being x-rayed in order to fly. I live at high altitude, which is an increased radiation exposure, and I get annual CT scans, which, again, increases my radiation exposure. So I'd prefer to not have yet another increase on my body.

I will be happier if they ever complete a dosimeter study of the TSA security portal workers. I also plan on reading the Boston report as Logan reportedly had a cancer cluster among workers of one of its baggage scanners.

In other joyous TSA news, Senator Rand Paul was detained by security when they saw something on the x-ray scan and he refused a pat-down.
thewayne: (Default)
Three are already in service, one in California and two in New Mexico. Well, north of El Paso, TX, which is close enough. And which I'll have to drive through whenever I go to El Paso, unless I take 150 mile detour through Las Cruces.

I definitely don't like this. This is ionizing radiation, which can damage tissue and DNA, and it's powerful enough to image through a metal car. DHS, of course, says it's perfectly safe. But we don't have studies approved by the FDA saying yea or nay. If your car were to stall with you in the middle of the scanner, you get an increased radiation dose. You know they're not going to build a mechanism like a self-service car wash where the machine moves around you, which would have the same risk, it's just not viable and slows checkpoint throughput. And they're not going to give an option for you to get out of your car and a DHS person drives your car through it, that increases their liability if your car gets damaged. So you're going to have to drive your car through it, no opt-out.

I asked an officer at the checkpoint between Las Cruces and Alamogordo about their backscatter x-ray van. It was late at night, no traffic behind me, and it had been gone for a while so I commented that it was back. The officer was surprised that I knew anything about it. I asked him how often they used it, and he said only occasionally, so I assume they use it for suspicious vehicles and 18-wheelers. The question is whether or not this drive-through thing is compulsory for all or just for suspicious vehicles.

I also feel more than a little sympathy for the officers at the checkpoints. These are ionizing radiation devices that the only statement of safety is the manufacturer and their employer, no independent third-party or government agency. I doubt the officers are going to be issued dosimeters to monitor their radiation exposure, though TSA has put out an RFP for quotes for dosimeters for airport security check workers (we'll see if that actually happens). There was a cancer cluster at Logan Airport in Boston among workers x-raying baggage, I haven't heard of anything yet with airport checkpoint workers.

It's definitely time for me to once again write my congresscritters.
thewayne: (Default)
First the director says they are, then he says the TSA Inspector General says they're safe, so he isn't. The problem is that these machines are not regulated by the FDA since they're not used in medical treatment. There are a huge number of unanswered questions, and unless the TSA is forced to answer them, they probably never will be.

The backscatter x-ray device is the two monoliths that you stand between. A pencil beam of x-rays scans your body up and down, back and forth. It uses ionizing radiation, which is known to cause damage to DNA. And DNA, to a degree, can repair itself. But there is a huge disagreement between how the manufacturers and TSA calculate the actual radiation amount received and how scientists calculate it.

(the other scanning device, millimeter radar, looks like a glass-sided cube and is not known to damage DNA)

And then there's the shielding. It's probable that the TSA workers around the machine are receiving some pretty impressive alleged at Boston's Logan airport earlier this year.
thewayne: (Default)
"Documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) suggest that the US Department of Homeland Security has signed contracts for the development of mobile and static systems that can be used scan pedestrians and people at rail and bus stations and special event venues — apparently at times without their knowledge. Under consideration: An Intelligent Pedestrian Surveillance platform; an X-Ray Backscatter system that could detect concealed metallic and high-density plastic objects on people from up to 10 meters away; a walk-through x-ray screening system that could be deployed at entrances to special events or other points of interest, which could be installed in corridors and likely scan people walking through it without them knowing it, EPIC said."

So it wouldn't matter if you're pregnant, if you're already at your life-long limit for radiation therapy following 4 cancers, if you have an impaired immune system -- you're going to get scanned! You have no choice, no opt-out. If you go in to certain events or venues, or if you just happen to be walking down the street and a van drives by: dude, you're getting a scan!

Homeland Security and Congress really need to learn about the concept of accepted risk. I accept the risk that every time I drive down the mountain, I could have an accident. Hell, I could get hit by someone and my car could fall down a several hundred feet ravine, which would really suck. I accept risk whenever I order food in a restaurant that they follow proper sanitization procedures and cook my food properly. I acknowledge that any time I'm walking down the street, I could be hit by a micrometeorite. LIFE IS NOT SAFE, RANDOM SHIT HAPPENS. You cannot be protected against every possible danger, and adding an unneeded radiation load to people randomly does not significantly increase safety of the population as a whole.

To make air travel reasonably safe, armor cockpit doors and pilots board and depart when no passengers are on board, and that door is sealed at all other times. X-ray ALL baggage and cargo that goes on the plane. All passengers AND CREW go through a magnetometer gate and all carry-on items are x-rayed, just like before and always. And issue every passenger a katana, like on Kill Bill. Or a taser. Maybe not the last suggestion. At least make tasers available to the flight crew. You have now made it extremely difficult to hijack a plane or blow it up with items brought on board. Add people with excellent profiling and soft questioning skills, and you have pretty darn good security.

Remember: the Moscow airport bombing occurred OUTSIDE of the security zone. You can kill lots of people with a bomb wherever there is a bottleneck and people are required to bunch up.

I think we should pass a law that ALL CITIZENS are issued a katana and must train with it. Just think of how much safer we all would be!

[sarcasm:off] (or is it?....)
thewayne: (Default)
Bruce Schneier collected many links of interest on the issue. Included are some t-shirts, I wouldn't mind having a couple of them and may be placing an order.

One of the links is from a TSA officer who surveyed 20 colleagues at various airports. 17 responded, all of them do not like the procedure or the increase in abuse that they are receiving.

Representative Ron Paul has introduced a bill that says the following:


No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of a individual's body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual's parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent."

A link to the bill is in Schneier's post.

And finally, an interview with a security expert who describes how airline passenger screening is handled in ISRAEL. They move a passenger through security in 25 MINUTES. SAFELY. It's a very good story, and it is based on sensible procedures. And Israeli security hasn't been breached in 8 years.


Time to contact our Congresscritters and TSA officials, actually it's past-time. You can get their addresses, both snail and email, at and
thewayne: (Default)
Wednesday, November 24. If you're flying, and have some time, demand a pat-down in a private room by the TSA rather than the body scanner. The intent is that if enough people do it across the country, it will send a message to government that these scanners are too much. The Electronic Privacy Information Center have sought a court order to stop the use of these devices as it has been proven before that the promise by the TSA that the images will not be stored is false, there has even been an assault by one TSA employee on another after the second made fun of the first's genitals while demonstrating the machines.

It's a definite monkey wrench attempt against the TSA and airline industry, and the airline industry is talking to government after receiving letters of complaint from travelers saying they will not fly again because of these scanners.

I only wish I were flying on the 24th, but we're not, we'll be driving to Phoenix late.
thewayne: (Default)
In an effort to herd more people through the full body scanners at airports, the TSA is making the opt-out pat-downs 'more vigorous', including moving their hands up your leg until the meet "resistance", i.e., your scrotum. I'm not sure where they stop for women.

I don't care. I have an immune disorder which is a direct reflection of a genetic problem, which means that I really shouldn't be exposed unnecessarily to ionizing radiation. So it's going to be pat-downs for me.

There was an interesting observation in the comments on Slashdot, that if you're required to fly as part of your business that you might have the grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit, in that your choices are to be molested or exploitively photographed.
thewayne: (Default)
According to the article, they're on every continent in the world except Antarctica. What, no terrorist penguins?

These are lower resolution than the ones being used in airports because they're designed for penetrating cars looking for suspicious/contraband material, still... One of the points made is that you can't be searched beneath your clothing without a search warrant according to the 4th amendment.

Remember the assault because of co-workers talking about a TSA worker's small penis? Well, a Heathrow scanner operator has been slapped with a sexual harassment complaint after scanning a flight attendant who "allegedly told her “I love those gigantic tits” after taking the scan." Now, chances are that he would have been hit with a complaint sooner or later, but the equipment certainly made it easier.
thewayne: (Default)
(August 20, 2010) US legislators want to know why US Marshalls Service stored images of body scans taken at a Florida courthouse. Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) sent a letter to the agency expressing their concern that citizens' privacy may have been violated.

The letter was also signed by Senators Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Thomas Carper (D-Delaware), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) and Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia). The images stored were not accessed until the agency received a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The Marshalls service says the images are not available without an administrative password. Despite the Marshall Service assurance that details were fuzzy enough so that people could not be identified, even by gender, the legislators want to know why the images were saved, if there are any other locations where full body imaging technology is being used, whether images from those locations are being stored, and if so, why.
thewayne: (Default)
They lied.

I am shocked, shocked I say!

"The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse."

You are supposed to have the option of going through a pat-down or wanding in lieu of the body scan, which is what I will do if I'm ever presented with the option. There is some controversy as to the safety of the radiation type and exposure levels, and I have enough health issues that I don't need to risk compounding them.
thewayne: (Default)
The new ones that see under your clothes? Some scientists are now saying that they think the equivalent amount of radiation may not be calculated correctly and they are not certain how much radiation the machine is pumping out.

I wasn't planning on using them and now I'm definitely not. I already have one mutation causing my immune disorder, I don't need to stack more on top of it.

Here's another interesting story on Googleitis, people diagnosing themselves (usually wrong) using the internet. I find it amusing, but it also strikes a deep note in me as that's how we diagnosed my condition. We went to two specialists. One said no, I had not had pneumonia, that it was all caused by asthma (103f temperature? I don't think so.) My immunologist was initially chasing an allergies line, saying that CVID in a person my age was extremely rare. Guess what? 10% of the population of CVID people are diagnosed in my age decade. Not exactly rare. If we had not pushed for an IgG test, there's no telling how much longer I'd be waiting for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
thewayne: (Default)
The new ones that effectively removes your clothes and reveal you in all your natural glory? Well, our first story is that, when the machine is in test mode, it can send the image to a remote location. TSA said they cannot. They also say that test mode will be disabled before they will be delivered to airports and that they cannot be put in to test mode by airport TSA agents. And computers can't be hacked across the internet.

The fine article:

Our second article is quite amusing. Germans, seemingly amusingly pissed off at these scanners, staged a nude (well, sorta nude) demonstration at an airport. The article has a couple of wonderful lines, including "’s unclear if the scanners would be able to detect explosives hidden in body cavities and would therefore likely provide only minimal security."

And "Although Amsterdam has been conducting a test pilot of full-body scanners since 2006, the armed passenger was not scanned by one of the devices before boarding his flight to Detroit. European Union regulations do not currently allow mandatory use of the equipment."

The second fine article:
thewayne: (Default)
This will be ever so effective at improving security in the US as the Shoe Bomber and the Underwear Bomber both got on the plane in foreign countries.

Yet more security theater. Of course, spending money on intelligence operations, such as discovered the liquid explosive ring in England, is far too impractical as it doesn't give money to companies who make security equipment.

These scanners are definitely effective, but you're just going to have to accept that you'll have zero privacy if you fly. I don't think there's any way they're going to be able to digitize the naughty bits and maintain the security, especially after this last guy stuffed explosives into his underwear.

September 2017

3 4 5678 9
101112 1314 15 16
1718 19 202122 23


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 24th, 2017 11:07 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios