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Transportation Privacy United States News

JFK, LAX To Test Millimeter-Wave Scanners 235

Posted by timothy
from the actually-frauelein-we-no-longer-ask-for-papers dept.
Narrative Fallacy writes "The Transportation Security Administration has announced that it's beginning pilot tests of millimeter wave scanning technology at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) that allow TSA personnel to see concealed weapons and other items that may be hidden beneath clothes. TSA Administrator Kip Hawley says that that the potentially revealing body scans (YouTube) would not be stored and that 90% of passengers subject to secondary screening opt for a millimeter wave scan over a pat-down. The agency added that security officers viewing the scans would do so remotely, where they will not be able to recognize passengers but will be able to trigger an alarm if needed. The agency also said that a blurring algorithm is applied to passengers' faces in scanned images as an additional privacy protection."
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JFK, LAX To Test Millimeter-Wave Scanners

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  • by FurtiveGlancer (1274746) <AdHocTechGuy@NOSpAm.aol.com> on Monday April 21, 2008 @04:49AM (#23140166) Journal
    before we see "best of anonymous airport scanner" porn sites pop up. On the bright side, the faces will already be blurred. From the I'd-know-that-birthmark-anywhere department.
    • by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Monday April 21, 2008 @04:58AM (#23140202) Homepage
      I was about to say something about the security guards being aroused the whole shift they work... But then i realized it will be at an US airport, where the traffic will have extra large volumes.
    • by BSAtHome (455370)
      Or fat people are hired to hide guns in the skinfolds...
    • You read my mind! We see those photos from amusement parks, with women's see-thru T-shirts, popping all over the net. It's only a matter of time 'til we see these scanner photos available too.

      "See Jessica Alba's naked body (as captured by airport security guards)!"

      • by Chrisq (894406)
        Yes, but if you haven't got anything to hide you have nothing to worry about.

        (spoken in a squeaky high voice)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by electrictroy (912290)
          Yet. Who knows what some future Congress may decide to pass as law. And besides, it is MY body and I have an inalienable right to decide when and where to display a naked image of same.

          Forcing me to submit to scans that can "strip" off my clothes is a violation of that right. (Just as surely as forcing someone to carry a fetus to birth is a violation of their bodily rights.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Samurai Tony (1202095)
        Links dammit... links. A comment like this is useless without proof to back up your statement.
        • by fbjon (692006)
          Am I the only one who went off googling for some inspiration, but came back empty-handed?
    • by palewook (1101845) on Monday April 21, 2008 @07:40AM (#23140966) Homepage
      how long before this device shows up as a Japanese Game Show.
    • There's one or two people here with the sig "oh look, my tax dollars at work coming to arrest me!"

      Should now read "oh look, my tax dollars at work coming to ogle me!"

      There's no limit to the liberty they'll take from you or the indignities they will subject to to in the name of security. But it isn't your security they fear, it's their cushy jobs that the terrorists threaten. And the domestic terrorists putting you through this rank bullshit have no remorse at all. In fact, they may possibly believe their o
  • why? (Score:5, Funny)

    by thermian (1267986) on Monday April 21, 2008 @04:55AM (#23140190)
    I mean, just how many millimetre waves are people going to be smuggling onto airplanes?

    Is there a market in black market millimetre waves that I'm not aware of?

  • Indecent posing (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2008 @04:55AM (#23140192)
    I was asked to do a scan at Heathrow, with no option for a patdown instead.

    To do this I had to stand in a certain posture.

    Imagine someone trying to push, with both hands, a wall coming at them from a slight angle above - or, someone doing a Hadouken at a telephone pole.

    At the same time they should have their legs like someone doing a "Kungfu Dancing" imitation, with the condition that they have just crapped themself so making sure they keep those cheeks extra spread.

    Image from front and back.
    • by clickety6 (141178) on Monday April 21, 2008 @06:56AM (#23140676)


      The best part was that they weren't even scanning you. They pull this joke on all the tourists with American accents... ;-)

    • Re:Indecent posing (Score:4, Informative)

      by Don_dumb (927108) on Monday April 21, 2008 @06:59AM (#23140688)
      I had this at LHR back in November (coincidentally I was flying to JFK). The option was to stay in line, or be fast tracked to the front, via scanning.
      They described the process as an 'X-ray' which I would have questioned but as I was quite keen to be progressed I simply said "okay".
      The stances certainly weren't easy, especially as you have to remain still, they had 3 different positions as I remember it.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      If I fly, can I just fly naked? I'd rather the fucking perverts in our cowardly governments look than touch.

      Would you be OK with getting a pat-down or a scan to buy something at the store? Then why is everybody OK with this crap at an airport?
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Monday April 21, 2008 @04:55AM (#23140194) Homepage
    Given that both this airports insist on you taking laptops out of your bag (how bad a scanner is it?) and shoes off and on my last notable trip through JFK I had to remove all electronic items (2 ipods, PSP, 2 mobile phones, 2 laptops, safe token) an put them through in a series of trays I can just imagine how this will actually work.

    They'll ask you to take your clothes off, put the clothes through the scanner to find anything "invisible" and then send them down a ramp at high speed getting them all mixed up with other people's clothes.

    My current irritation in US airports is the "boarding card" check AFTER the body scanner. So if (like me) you normally put your ticket in your jacket pocket (which of course has to be scanned separately) then you get scolded even though your boarding pass had to be checked to get you into the security queue in the first place. All this check does is slow everyone down for another 10 seconds per person for absolutely ZERO benefit (they don't check that you are the person on the card, just that you have the boarding card).

    • by QuantumG (50515) *
      It's actually to stop idiots from coming back to the screening area looking for their boarding card.

      One bunch of idiots making rules for another bunch of idiots.

    • Boarding pass check (Score:5, Informative)

      by supersat (639745) on Monday April 21, 2008 @06:23AM (#23140516)
      The boarding pass check is to see if you should be directed to secondary screening. Yes, it's dumb that they put the secondary screening indicator (the "SSSS" of doom) on your boarding pass, but that's how it works.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by QuantumG (50515) *
        I get it all the time, only thing worse than a "white male traveling alone" is a "man of eastern appearance".

        • Odd, as a "white male travelling alone", I have never been singled out for secondary screening on my many trips. Not even that time when the security guy at check-in (they had a separate guy asking a few questions) asked me if I travelled alone, and I replied "No but my friend is on another flight today since he got a freebie ticket, not sure which flight. Where am I staying in the US? No idea, its in New York and my friend has the address". I breezed through security as usual.

          The only time I got sec
        • by fbjon (692006)
          Is this secondary screening thing a (recent) US occurrence? Because I've never heard of it while travelling.
        • That is likely true, but right up there at the top is "one way ticket"... Because you know, the terrorists can't figure out that is a flag and buy round trip.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gatzke (2977)

      Humans make mistakes. Maybe the first human overlooked something on your ticket, so the second hopefully will catch it...

      Think of it scientifically. If the humans are 99% effective at catching whatever they catch when looking at your boarding pass, one layer would miss 1 out of 100 evildoers. Two layers makes that number 1 in 10,000. Of course, the effectiveness of one layer is still debatable...

      I would like to see personal interviews more commonplace, like how they do with the Israeli airlines. Just a
      • by MosesJones (55544)
        Its ticket which has an ELECTRONICALLY readable code, often a 3D barcode. The printed information on it is VERY easy to fix, the barcode is much harder as it has to tie back to a specific transaction.

        A human check of the card is of minor value, the second check is just for secondary screening which would be much better handled either at the gate (most effective) or at the start of the queue.
  • by pagaboy (1029878) on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:00AM (#23140214)
    it'll certainly catch any unauthorised commandos.
    • by SoulRider (148285)
      I was thinking more along the lines of. This will certainly catch all of those interstellar spies who have had their minds wiped and are living a lie.
  • bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:08AM (#23140238)

    TSA Administrator Kip Hawley says that that the potentially revealing body scans (YouTube) would not be stored and that 90% of passengers subject to secondary screening opt for a millimeter wave scan over a pat-down.


    How many of those people actually were aware of the pat-down option? I bet it was not 100%. Also, given the fact that even Medical information cannot be reliably kept confidential in most cases, I sincerely doubt this data will. Unless there are strong prison sentences for any employee convicted of disseminating this information, I am not impressed with their statements of security, confidentiality, or purported privacy.
     
     

    The agency added that security officers viewing the scans would do so remotely, where they will not be able to recognize passengers but will be able to trigger an alarm if needed. The agency also said that a blurring algorithm is applied to passengers' faces in scanned images as an additional privacy protection."


    Uh huh. I feel so much better that the pervert checking out my junk is out of sight. Yeah, much better. Ohhh, but I do agree that the blurred faces give additional illusions of privacy. I am certain that all the women feel better that we men aren't looking at their faces.
    • Re:bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aranykai (1053846) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (resnogls)> on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:17AM (#23140268)
      No offense dude, but most people probably dont want to be checking our your "junk".

      Really, what is the paranoia of the human body? Who gives a shit if someone see's my penis, if its a guy they have one of similar design in their pants too...
      • puritian influences (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hansoloaf (668609) <hansoloaf AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:34AM (#23140338)
        I see the Puritan influences is still pervasive and strong in this country regarding our bodies.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2008 @07:23AM (#23140824)
          Personally, I'm going to make an extra-special effort to be sporting a big stiffy the next time I'm subjected to this search.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by JeanCroix (99825)
            And by the government's usual logic, frequent fliers will soon fall under suspicion of being exhibitionists, and prosecuted accordingly.
        • by madboson (649658) on Monday April 21, 2008 @08:13AM (#23141454) Homepage
          Has nothing to do with Puritan influences. This is extending the invasion of privacy to a very private level. So now, to travel any where I have to do the equivalent of dragging my clothes off for some anonymous screener. Thank you, no.
          • You don't have to fly you know. You could take a bus, walk, drive etc. You know jails do the same type of search, they do cavity searches etc. So I stay out of jail. It is quite simple.
      • Re:bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

        by electrictroy (912290) on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:57AM (#23140428)
        I don't understand the paranoia. This is the GOVERNMENT we are talking about. We trust them with our future retirement savings (SS); we trust them with our healthcare (medicare and coming soon: universal gov't hospitals); we trust them with feeding and housing us (food stamps; welfare; et cetera); and educating us (gov't schools).

        Surely we can trust the government in erasing naked photos of our bodies.

        Right?

        Hello?

        Hmmmm. Seems absurd we trust them with taking care of us (like children) in all other facets of life; why not this one too?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by djones101 (1021277)

          Considering I, like most people...

          A) Don't collect Social Security, and have made alternative plans for retirement since SS will be gone by the time I'm 67 (my full-SS retirement age, a whole 42 years from now).

          B) Don't utilize government healthcare. Medicare is a farse that will not last until I'm old and gray.

          C) I purchased my own house with money I collected working a job, something a growing number of people seem unwilling to do. I also purchase my food with the same money.

          D) I went to a private

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by electrictroy (912290)
            I agree.

            I made my comment in jest, because I find it funny to hear people say on one hand, "We can't trust the government to scan our bodies & erase the images," and yet a few hours later wax eloquently about how "I trust the government to provide my healthcare and retirement and education, and will vote for politicians who agree with me."

            It's contradictory.

            Either you trust the government, or you don't. (I'm one of those who does not, and would like government to remove itself from the education and he
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          I don't understand the paranoia. This is the GOVERNMENT we are talking about. We trust them with our future retirement savings (SS); we trust them with our healthcare (medicare and coming soon: universal gov't hospitals); we trust them with feeding and housing us (food stamps; welfare; et cetera); and educating us (gov't schools).

          We don't trust them ... we've entrusted them because we have no other choice.

          When it comes right down to it, we don't trust them any more than they trust us.

          Cheers

        • Who is this "we" you're speaking of? I don't trust them with any of those things. I have my own retirement accounts, my own healh insurance, and I pay for my own food and housing with my own salary.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        First of all, I definitely understand your point. But let me raise a counter-example for the sake of the discussion.

        My neighbor has a a beautiful wife with the same similar design as my wife.. or even my mother. Does that mean that she (or her husband for that matter!) would feel comfortable showing her details to others? (nudists are considered an exception here).

        Or what about the idea of your wonderful teenage daughter being selected for a scan time after time again?!? Would you 'give a shit' in that case
    • Looking vs touching. I'd go with the looking personally.

      They see tons of people every day. Its nothing special to them.
      • I like the way it's automatically assumed that I would rather have my genitalial viewed or patted down by the male homosexual rather than the female lesbian.
    • >Unless there are strong prison sentences for any employee convicted of disseminating this information, I am not impressed with their statements of security, confidentiality, or purported privacy.

      There would also need to be internal audits and tracking to make sure that misuse could be pinned down beyond a reasonable doubt. Imagine, if you can, a culture so strong that it would stop the guards from sharing passwords.
  • by MadCow42 (243108) on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:24AM (#23140288) Homepage
    I had this happen at London Heathrow. I was selected for secondary scanning, and directed to the mm-wave device. The operator was sitting in a booth right beside the machine, but only he could see the screen.

    The thing that really annoyed me is that I wasn't given a choice - simply told to go through this device. There was no explanation of what it was, or what it would do, only that "the amount of radiation is about the same as flying for an additional 5 minutes at altitude in a plane". However, when I asked the simple question "do I have to?", they sheepishly admitted that I did not. I signed a form saying that I didn't accept it, and they walked me to the front of the line for normal security!

    So, by saying "no", I actually saved about 20 minutes in line.

    My advice - REFUSE to participate in invasive scans like this. If people accept these new intrusions like sheep, it'll just keep getting worse.

    MadCow.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LingNoi (1066278)

      the amount of radiation is about the same as flying for an additional 5 minutes at altitude in a plane
      That's 5 minutes too long in my opinion.

      Although it hasn't happened yet, I'm personally waiting for the next news post.. "New scanner shown to cause various cancers, millions of people already scanned".
      • by zappepcs (820751)
        Not just cancers, lets go all the way to genetic mutations.

        Where is the information on studies for this technology relating to Alzheimers, diabetes, melanoma, and well... just about any common diseases. I haven't seen it. All I've seen is radiation dosages for healthy humans.

        Sure, some stuff won't kill you and is voluntary such as cellular phones. This is not voluntary. Just because it won't kill you, or cause you to mutate inside the airport does NOT mean that it does no harm. There are no long term studie
        • Just because it won't kill you, or cause you to mutate inside the airport

          Too bad. Because for most people one encounters in the airport, mutating could only be an improvement.
    • I signed a form saying that I didn't accept it, and they walked me to the front of the line for normal security!


      Why did you have to sign a form? Was it to state that you agree you weren't being sexually harassed by being pat down, and that it was your choice? That seems really weird, but I can't think of another reason you'd have to sign anything.
      • by MadCow42 (243108)
        They didn't collect any details about me other than my signature on the form - it was basically to quantify the number of people refusing the scan. This is how they get statistics like "90% of people preferred the scan to a hand search", without saying that nobody was actually told they had an option in the first place.

        Some other post said that they now have a sign up - but it definately wasn't there when I went through. I sure hope it's a prominent sign...

        MadCow.
  • Remotely? I bet the security office watching the screen at remote place...is operating by themselves? How easy could he be holding a cellphone and recording all this?

    Tell me next time when there is kiddie porn leaked from the video feed of scanner like this.
    • Actually I think you bring up an interesting point. Considering that the TSA has kept young children from their parents on the grounds of secondary searches, much to the distress of the children and parents I wonder what will keep some sick fuck from wanting to scan kids and get his jollies off from it. I know a guy that works for TSA and by his own admission as long as you have a pulse and can read at a third grade level you can work for the TSA, so I would imagine that the quality of people there is som
  • I'm sure the rat-things will disarm me promptly.

    Good thing I remember /. articles about sintered armorgel being produced, or I'd be really bad off.
  • by owlnation (858981) on Monday April 21, 2008 @06:03AM (#23140444)
    Airport security -- first job choice for pedophiles now. The government spends half its energy trying to catch people looking at kids in their underwear, and then the other half making sure some people can get a good clear view.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by eebra82 (907996)
      Which airport is that? I am yet to see a child in underwear at any airport.
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday April 21, 2008 @06:07AM (#23140458) Homepage Journal
    just follow my logic here. I only fly because my company makes me. When I go to the airport I have to put up with all this security bullshit and now they've put in magic scanners (it's magic to me, as it is to most everyone) and the security people get to see me naked. So basically, if I want to get paid, my company is demanding that I get naked. Now, I don't know about you, but I didn't sign up for that. I'm not exactly *against* the idea of getting naked for money, but I think I should be getting paid a lot more than I am now if that's the deal.

    • by mikelieman (35628)
      It does sound like time to renegotiate your contract!
    • by ThreeGigs (239452)
      Hah! When I was hired, I had to go and get a physical exam. You know, those complete physicals that assure the insurance company that'll be providing health insurance that you're healthy. And yeah, that included a prostate check, at my age. *You* had to get looked at with x-ray glasses. *I* had to bend over and cough.

      On a non-funny note, why is this such a big deal? If you were ever injured in an accident, would you *prefer* the doctors not operate on you because they might see you (gasp) naked? Guys, as yo
  • So they'll give /two/ alarms instead of one, when the blond 17 year old with the giant but perky tits walks by.
  • Sounds expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Monday April 21, 2008 @06:21AM (#23140502) Homepage
    All else aside, how much do these things cost? Who's paying?

    The homeland security folks have had a blank cheque to pay for whatever cool toys they want for far too long.

    Air travel is expensive enough as it is, and considering just how rarely I do it, the taxpayer subsidies are sickening as well.
  • You know when you go to a theme park, and there's some bozo photographer at the entrance asking to take your photograph, and then you can buy a print of that photograph as you leave? And even though it's a lousy shot, they want $20 for it? It's like that.

    Or better yet, they'll sell anonymized scans of other people.

  • by benwiggy (1262536) on Monday April 21, 2008 @07:00AM (#23140700)
    If the system has an algorithm to blur the details of faces, then obviously, you just need to hide your terrorism kit in your face.
  • The agency added that security officers viewing the scans would do so remotely, where they will not be able to recognize passengers but will be able to trigger an alarm if needed.

    Yeah, you can just imagine the sort of alarms they'll be triggering to get all the boys running for a look..

    "Big Bazongas" Alert
    "Penis shaped like an amusing vegetable" alert
    Ben Wa Balls Alarm

    and so on...

  • So even if grandma has a new hip and goes through the new scanner she's still getting a pat down. I also beleive this is the case for any alarm form the new scanner

    Personally I have to question then how is this an improvement oveer the current magnetometers from a user perspective.

    Also I do not for a minute buy the government's assertion this is safe. Plain and simple there isn't enough long term data for them to make that claim.
  • Medical privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2008 @07:27AM (#23140844)
    I'm a transsexual, and this would totally out me (people generally can't tell). As if I need people to find more excuses to give me shit.
  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Monday April 21, 2008 @07:31AM (#23140886)

    I submit that if a TSA screener should be entitled to such a scan, that I should be entitled to see them do the same. Unfortunately, given the appearance and physical fitness of your average screener, I think I'm getting the short end of the stick even in that case.

    In all seriousness, though, these sorts of violations by our governments upon the governed is the intent of terrorism. Civilians are the indirect target. By making them afraid, the government is pressured or motivated to enact increasingly restrictive laws and methods of enforcement to assuage that fear and protect the populace. The terrorists know that full protection is impossible, so they continue until the loss of freedom becomes so intolerable that the people overthrow the government. The politicians and so-called elected officials know this, but play into their hands anyway--in the short term, the power grab is irresistible.

    The entire focus on security (and technology to improve such security) is wrongheaded, and is a convenient diversion from the real issue, which is why people become terrorists in the first place. People don't explode themselves for no reason whatsoever. No amount of technology, legislation, or vigilance will ever address the root cause that incites an individual to such fervor that they are willing to DIE to achieve their aims.

    But again, the politicians know this--so one must call into question their own motivation for pushing these measures on the public. When I have the ability to subject each and every last one of our elected officials, corporate officers, and whomever is telling me I'm supposed to be OK with being scanned and exposed in such a humiliating fashion, to the exact same treatment, then and only then would I consider accepting such a practice. When I can see Dick Cheney's ugly-ass flaps of man-tits hanging over his oversized belly obscuring his undersized privates (mind you, not that I would ever risk the subsequent psychological scarring), I might reconsider. And if even one scan ever gets leaked or misused in any way, I'd like to see the scans of each and every one of those people involved in promoting this technology released all over the internet for everyone to laugh at as punishment. Otherwise, their promises and reassurances mean nothing.

    It is not a question of trust, freedom, modesty, or security. It is a question of accountability; because without that, everything else is meaningless. To the extent that those that watch us do not desire to be watched by us is the precise extent to which we are not a free and just society.

  • Passenger Safety? try more FAA inspectors, and more air traffic controllers.

    This looks like a machine that is being sold to the government and 10 or 20 times what it should cost with the main purpose of funneling tax money to some political donor.

    This whole terrorist thing is way overblown , and the real danger in flying is the cheap airlines getting away with lax maintenance because the money that should be going to FAA inspectors is going to silly stuff like this.

    Cheers
     
  • by clintp (5169) on Monday April 21, 2008 @08:15AM (#23141508)

    Hawley says that that the potentially revealing body scans (YouTube) would not be stored

    The scans have to be stored for criminal prosecution and accident/incident investigation.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday April 21, 2008 @08:37AM (#23142008)
    I thought all radiation is dangerous to some degree, even sunlight.

    As for prudishness, most bodies are boring if anyone has spent more than a few minutes at a nude beach or as a medical professional. Most mature people can easily handle this.
  • Just last week I read an article assuring people that T-wave scans would not show any naughty bits. (Sorry, don't have a link handy) And now this is saying oh, there's naughty bits, but we'll be remote, we can't see your face, and won't keep the images.

    Sure. Someone has already commented about being in Heathrow and having a guard right there looking at the scans, knowing who was walking though. Obviously Heathrow isn't a US airport, but can we really believe TSA won't do it that way soon enough? If they are
  • The agency added that security officers viewing the scans would do so remotely, where they will not be able to recognize passengers but will be able to trigger an alarm if needed.

    In other words, they'll post every picture online at am-i-a-terrorist-or-not.com and those who get the highest scores are detained. Thank you, Internet.
  • by PegLegPete (551042)
    Does anyone have pictures of what the resulting scans look like? The only one I could find [tsa.gov] was on the tsa.gov website [tsa.gov].

    If that's what it really looks like, then I don't understand how there is any real controversy here. You'd have to be a desperate fella to get aroused by that. Any of these technologies, I assume, are going to be very abstract representations of the human body, hardly something comparable to an actual naked photo of you.

    In the end, people will always be able to see you naked the old
  • I would much rather bypass all airport security by owning my own carbon fiber zeppelin. I'm looking for venture capitalists, and I'm not joking, either.

    There is simply no reason we shouldn't have luxury RV zeppelins by now.

    rhY

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