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Transportation Privacy

Bruce Schneier vs. the TSA 741

Posted by Soulskill
from the sees-right-through-them dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Bruce Schneier has posted a huge recap of the controversy over TSA body scanners, including more information about the lawsuit he joined to ban them. There's too much news to summarize, but it covers everything from Penn Jillette's and Dave Barry's grope stories, to Israeli experts who say this isn't needed and hasn't ever stopped a bomb, to the three-year-old girl who was traumatized by being groped and much, much more." Another reader passed along a related article, which says, "Congressman Ron Paul lashed out at the TSA yesterday and introduced a bill aimed at stopping federal abuse of passengers. Paul’s proposed legislation would pave the way for TSA employees to be sued for feeling up Americans and putting them through unsafe naked body scanners."
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Bruce Schneier vs. the TSA

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:17PM (#34286290)

    how is scanning teenagers not considered manufacturing CP?

    we all know the images will be saved, they have to be. After all, what kind of security outfit would not want the capability to go back and look at the images after a future terror attempt happens? Of course they'll want to go back and review surveillance footage and these images, to see if they need to change thresholds or procedures, to see if/what they missed.

    So given that it's a given they are saving them for forensics purposes (and perhaps for evidenciary purposes if a terrorist was brough to trial), isn't this the outright manufacture of child porn?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Apuleius (6901)

      Well, they are not posing lasciviously, so it could still be legal. But never mind that. Legal issues are easy to deal with: change the law.

      Moral issues are another matter. And the issue there is simple:

      Young girls should not have to have their boobs bared by this scanner just to fly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by couchslug (175151)

      "how is scanning teenagers not considered manufacturing CP?"

      The scans have no Pedobear seal of approval.

    • by eln (21727) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:49PM (#34286660) Homepage
      I'm more concerned with the reports of "enhanced patdowns" used on underage children. Having an image like that on some government computer is nasty, but unlikely to cause any lasting harm to the kid as long as it never leaks out into the wild (which is a real possibility, I'll grant).

      However, what does it tell the child when a government employee is allowed to touch them in areas their parents have been telling them all their lives no one but the doctor is allowed to touch them? While the parents stand by powerless to do anything about it? In full view of hundreds of other people? Are we supposed to amend what we tell our children to "no one can touch you there, unless they happen to have some kind of perceived authority over you or if they're wearing a uniform"?
      • by houghi (78078) on Friday November 19, 2010 @07:59PM (#34287480)

        Please do not use the "think of the children" defense. It is as bad as the "think of the terrorists" excuse they are using.

        I am of legal age. I do not want to be felt up by a stranger. That should be enough to NOT do it. No need to use children as an excuse to stop something that is bad.

        • by sfkaplan (1004665) on Friday November 19, 2010 @10:23PM (#34288552) Homepage

          The "think of the children" defense is perfectly applicable here. It is not just a superfluous use of children's issues to misdirect people from the real issue; here, patting-down children causes real harm, and draws people's attention to the primary issue itself. I agree that the groping of adults should be enough to stop this behavior on the part of the TSA, but the role that children play in this situation is different and compelling. As the GP pointed out, not only are these pat-downs useless when used on children, but they also monstrously undermine healthy efforts to teach children to protect their own bodies. The practice on adults is offensive and useless; on children it is perverse, reprehensible, and cruel.

          Moreover, be practical: The hardest part of fixing this problem is getting the attention of beauracrats, which means getting the attention of the public and media for long enough for those beauracrats "care". Highlighting that children are being needlessly affected here, and that the TSA is removing children from their parents' control, are real problems that get the attention needed to fix the problem.

          • Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @09:50AM (#34290868)

            You said the same things I wanted to say, but better. For once, the "Think of the children" mantra is actually reasonable here, and it might actually help to snap people out of their complacency and make them realize how degrading this latest security theatre is. It's one thing to meekly give up all of our privacy and liberty just because the government asks us to, but even BEYOND that, they are now trying to take away our basic dignity. People need to draw the line somewhere and make the TSA realize, enough is enough.

            Imagine you have a teenage daughter. Would you rather: (1) have her be irradiated by a medically-unproven scanning device which will show images of her naked body to the sleazy TSA guys behind the counter, any one of whom might capture that image with his cell phone to wank off to later, or: (2) have her be physically molested by a same-sex TSA employee who will touch her breasts and crotch, in public view in front of other passengers, or (3) have her be physically molested by a same-sex TSA employee who will touch her breasts and crotch, in a private room out of sight?

            All three of these are grossly invasive and unacceptable options. Of course they're grossly invasive and unacceptable for adults too, but it might be easier to make people realize this if they happen to be a parent and you can explain it to them in terms of what is going to happen to their child. After thinking this through, I think any decent parent would be quite angry at the TSA.

        • by HeronBlademaster (1079477) <heron@xnapid.com> on Friday November 19, 2010 @10:49PM (#34288708) Homepage

          In this case, the "think of the children" defense is actually relevant - an adult can legally consent to another adult touching his or her genitals, but a child can't. (Which is not to say that adults should consent to the TSA's groping.)

    • by Stregano (1285764) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:56PM (#34286744)
      I am legal, and if they want some naked pictures of a fat man, I will hand them stuff from my portfolio personally. They don't need to try and trick me to get them
    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Friday November 19, 2010 @07:38PM (#34287228)

      how is scanning teenagers not considered manufacturing CP?

      For the same reason that the "pat-down" isn't considered sexual assault: because the government is doing it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:17PM (#34286292)

    Why is that a country founded on the ideological rejection of tyranny is creeping ever closer to the text book example of abuses of power?

    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:21PM (#34286346)
      It's like with Ancient Rome...it becomes stale and one day you have to reboot. Any volunteers to board Juneflower?
    • Fear (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:22PM (#34286358) Homepage Journal

      It all started on 9/11, when instead of reacting to the attacks as a matter for coordinated worldwide policing, we elevated those fuckers to the same status as a nation-state and decided to declare war on anyone and everyone who didn't instantly get in line behind us. We stoked our own fear to an insane degree, and it's already boomeranged back on us in so many ways. This is just one more self-inflicted wound in a long line of idiotic mistakes we've made over the last nine years.

    • by rsborg (111459) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:40PM (#34286536) Homepage

      link [generationterrorists.com]

      As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.

      Commissioner Pravin Lal
      "U.N. Declaration of Rights"

    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:41PM (#34286560)

      Why is that a country founded on the ideological rejection of tyranny is creeping ever closer to the text book example of abuses of power?

      Why? That's an easy question to answer: because we're human. They're the classic reasons: greed, power, money, etc. There are a lot of people getting paid for the TSA to be so big, and a lot of people in a lot of positions of power. Because people are people, corruption comes out of that.

      The question isn't "why", because the answer is always the same. The question should be "is anyone doing anything about it?" Thankfully, it appears that finally this major issue is receiving the type of response that it should. This is obviously a breach of fourth amendment rights, and the Israelis have proven that it's possible to have a higher level of security with a minimal level of interference, without simply outright violating people's rights in the name of security. Everyone needs to continue pressure to figure out a way to make air travel secure while not violating everyone's rights, because it's obviously possible and just not happening.

      It seems to me like "grope them" is the reaction you get when you can't think of anything better, so there might be some problems with the people making these policies.

      The fact that people are at least starting to stand up against those policies and for their rights is the right reaction and it's reassuring to see it finally happening. That's what makes this country strong: not the fact that we can stop everything from happening, but the fact that we change it if it does.

      Ben Franklin said it best:

      "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532)

      Because personal responsibility has been thrown out the window by a cabal of power-hungry politicians who use government to make citizens dependent on them. They want everything to be like Western Europe, with tons of regulation and a gigantic state that can force everyone to behave the way they want them to behave.

      But don't worry. The anti-government wave of the 2010 midterms woke some people up. The GOP finally adopted a secular, economy-focused message and was very successful with it, and if that means t

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        But don't worry. The anti-government wave of the 2010 midterms woke some people up. The GOP finally adopted a secular, economy-focused message and was very successful with it, and if that means this country shifts back toward libertarianism (you know, how it originally started), that's fine with me.

        Thanks! I needed a good laugh. What you wrote is just as delusional as Obama's "Hope & Change". We are getting screwed by both sides and the Tea Party is too stupid to realize they are being used by those who want to keep the status quo.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:18PM (#34286314)

    It's been a while since the 9/11 attacks, and maybe later updated information was hidden back in the classified ads of my newspaper - but I thought that the consensus was the 9/11 hijackers did not bring their boxcutters onto the plane with them. So these increasingly intrusive TSA make-work tactics would have had zero effect on the worst terrorist attack in US history.

    Not to mention that, post 9/11, passengers and crew realize now that modern-day hijackers are mainly interested in killing everyone on the plane. So in the attempts that have followed, passengers and/or the crew have successfully thwarted those attempts. That's the real solution - an aware public.

    These silly "solutions" the TSA keeps rolling out don't seem to be accomplishing anything other than annoying air travelers. If any of these measures had actually demonstrably stopped even one attempted attack, don't you think the TSA would be crowing it from the rooftops?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:40PM (#34286548)

      John Pistole (head of TSA) tipped his hand when bragging about the effectiveness of the screening.

      His brag is that he has thwarted terrorists, by siezing terror tools such as marijuana and a heroin needle.

      Now, marijuana and a heroin needle will not bring down a plane, so what's really happening here?

      A DEA agent, or police officer, cant run around shoving his hand down everyones pants looking for drugs. Without cause, that would be an illegal search, and the evidence obtained would be useful.

      However, when the illegal search is made privately (I shove my hand down a strangers pants, then call the cops when i find a baggie of weed), the evidence is admissable. I may be charged with assault or something, but the point is the DEA has now made an end run around the 4rth amendment.

      That is what this is. The TSA are *not* police, the search is obstensibly for security purposes, but when they find that baggie of weed, it's turned over to the cops and DEA who do their whole civil forfeiture routine.

      You might remember a scheme to have postal employees 'on the lookout for terror' right after 9/11. Same thing there. The dumb old constitution limits police power, and they fucking hate it.

      The country is bankrupt. They need to sieze more houses, cars, and boats. This is just a loophole through the constitution, and a brand new (illegal) battlefield for the War on Drugs, which is much more profitable than the War on Terror. More people die in a day crossing the road than have ever died of terrorism in the USA. They know there's no real threat.

      So, once this is accepted, the TSA will move the road show to train and subway stations, and then start random roadside searches of cars. Look to see more bullshit agencies created by executive order, to illegally search - i mean safety screen - you in other venues as well. After all, a Phish concert certainly is a decent terrorist target, right? We want all those people to be safe, after all.

      IANAL, and perhaps a real one could clarify what I'm saying, or tell me why I'm wrong.

      • by Hatta (162192) on Friday November 19, 2010 @07:39PM (#34287250) Journal

        Look to see more bullshit agencies created by executive order, to illegally search - i mean safety screen - you in other venues as well. After all, a Phish concert certainly is a decent terrorist target, right?

        It's already happening. Recently a Grateful Dead cover band had their property [campzoe.com] seized because they failed to provide enough security. I've been there several times and it was, without a doubt, the safest concert environment I have ever been to. There were no friskings because there was no need for it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      but I thought that the consensus was the 9/11 hijackers did not bring their boxcutters onto the plane with them.

      I don't know why they wouldn't have: TSA regulations at the time said anyone was allowed to.

      So these increasingly intrusive TSA make-work tactics would have had zero effect on the worst terrorist attack in US history.

      Well, the first step when they forbid boxcutters, bats, scissors and darts made some sense. The rest, not as much.

      Of course, you're right that a change in public attitude (and offic

      • by sl149q (1537343) on Friday November 19, 2010 @07:17PM (#34286990)

        Actually as the fourth 9/11 plane demonstrates, once the passengers know what the score is they are not going to worry about box cutters. Remember that prior to 9/11 passengers where instructed to play it safe if planes where hijacked. That WAS the safe thing to do until 9/11. After 9/11 it is NOT the safe thing to do and passengers no longer do so.

        Locked cockpit doors and passengers willing to go to the mat are the ONLY two safety measures that increase your safety when flying. The rest is security theater.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "in the attempts that have followed the passengers and/or crew have thwarted attempts"

      Exactly. Arm everyone. In Vermont we can carry hidden weapons. We don't need no stinking government permits. You never know if the person you're confronted is carrying a hidden handgun and will whip it out to shoot you. That knowledge makes you a whole LOT more respectful and it means that we have the weapons to take on a terrorists, bank robber, home intruder, etc.

      Lastly, get a dog. Get a lot of dogs. Nobody messes with m

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LearnToSpell (694184)
        Arm everyone. In Vermont we can carry hidden weapons. We don't need no stinking government permits. You never know if the person you're confronted is carrying a hidden handgun and will whip it out to shoot you. That knowledge makes you a whole LOT more respectful and it means that we have the weapons to take on a terrorists, bank robber, home intruder, etc.

        Excellent point, good chap. The sheer number of concealed weapons has surely made America one of the most respectful places in the world today!
        • by element-o.p. (939033) on Friday November 19, 2010 @09:35PM (#34288250) Homepage
          I've heard that old saw so many times before, and it still makes me puke when I hear it. One of the classic examples of an unarmed society with a much lower crime rate is Japan. I *lived* in Japan, for seven years (unlike a lot of the people who parrot that example), and I will guarantee that the lower crime rate in Japan has much, much less to do with whether or not the average citizen is allowed to own a gun, and much, much more to do with culture. The Japanese *do not tolerate* those who break with tradition or societal rules. We Americans practically worship the rebels. The Japanese also don't muck around with criminals. When a suspect is arrested, they are guilty unless proven innocent, and once incarcerated, it's not a trip to the country club (albeit with Bubba in the shower and iron bars in the windows) -- it's sit on your knees on a concrete cell until you are allowed to move, then back on your knees again.

          If you really want to know how disarming the population affects crime rates, compare the crime rates before and after in a single location before and after gun laws are changed, or compare crime rates in cities in, for example, right-to-carry and no concealed-carry states. For example, there is a very interesting graph of the crime rate in Florida before and after it passed a right-to-carry law in 1987 at http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp [justfacts.com] . In other words, I see your "...concealed weapons has surely made America one of the most respectful places in the world..." and raise you a "Indeed, and the handgun bans in Washington D.C., Chicago and NYC have certainly made them safe places to live!"
  • I'd feel safer... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrQuacker (1938262) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:24PM (#34286372)
    I would feel safer if we got rid of the TSA and just had one or two fully decked out marines on board each flight. Would be cheaper too...
    • by k2enemy (555744) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:33PM (#34286462)

      I would feel safer if we got rid of the TSA and just had one or two fully decked out marines on board each flight. Would be cheaper too...

      Even that would be a complete waste of money. After 9/11 passengers know that if the plane gets hijacked they will likely die. The passengers and crew will now prevent a hijacking just as a Marine would. The other easy to imagine threat is that someone tries to blow up the plane. In that case a Marine isn't going to be much help. We would be better off devoting the money to intelligence and investigation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blair1q (305137)

        Which is why nobody's trying to stop hijackings. They're trying to stop mid-air explosions that can be set off without anyone noticing before it's too late.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The passengers and crew will now prevent a hijacking just as a Marine would.

        The marine could carry weaponry onto the plane, the civilians can't. We'll get a nice police state once we all start asking for it. Military police roaming around our civilian lives sure is better than the gropings, right?

      • by lanner (107308) on Friday November 19, 2010 @09:39PM (#34288286)

        Suggesting that passengers would stand up against plane hijackers is absurd. The American public at-large already crapped it's pants and bent over for the federal government when ordered to do so. Why would those same people not cower in fear when confronted directly with any other threat?

        Of course American's are terrorized cowards. They will do anything to have someone tell them that it's going to be alright, that their investments are safe, that their house is worth more than it is, that social security will be around when they retire, and that the plane will land safely if they just do as they are told.

        Want a direct example? Just look at these bus passengers do nothing as an old man is assaulted by some bully:

        http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2010/11/raymel_curry_sucker_punches_di.php [seattleweekly.com]

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:30PM (#34286436)

    A few weeks ago, I flew out of Lihue, Kauai. They have one 'scanner'. I guess thats what it is. A fancier version of booth then the usual metal detector that they optionally put people through. As I waited in line, the only person they subjected to the extra scan was one hot looking blonde lady wearing a flimsy blouse, cutoff shorts and flip-flops.

    Where do I sign up for one of these TSA jobs?

  • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot&davidgerard,co,uk> on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:32PM (#34286450) Homepage

    In the wake of Transport Security Administration staff forcing a "full pat-down" on a three-year-old child, Catholic priests have been clamouring [newstechnica.com] to work for the government department.

    The TSA, which has apprehended only slightly less than one terrorist in its nine years of operation, welcomed the new recruits to the fold. "We need people with experience in dealing with young people," said TSA head John Pistole, "in telling people what to do and in making the innocent feel guilty. And the enthusiasm! They're not your typical bored minimum-wager, no way! Also, they have better uniforms."

    Mr Pistole reiterated the patriotic duty that drives the TSA in their work. "Fondling little girls' genitals is vital to protecting America from TERRORISTS. Remember: if TSA staff can't finger your daughter, the TERRORISTS have won!" He then strangled a kitten for our photographer.

    Cardinal Bernard Law returned to America from the Vatican especially for the opportunity to create government-funded child pornography with the new "naked" scanners. "It's top quality stuff, too. The tears, the pain — the things that make this sort of thing really worthwhile."

    "They were nasty men," said three-year-old TSA molestee Mandy Simon. "But it clearly demonstrates the iron necessity of the holy Jihadic destruction of the West. Allahu akbar! Daddy? I done a boo-boo."

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:39PM (#34286526)

    My employer has a lab in Haifa, and I know a number of folks who have traveled to Israel on business. They have also traveled to the US, post 9/11. They all state that the Israeli security folks are really detectives, who are very intelligent, ask misleading questions and evaluate the responses. All very "human / personal based." They all felt safe when entering the plane.

    The US security seems to be base on technology. You have security folks, who are only capable of identifying a terrorist if the machine beeps.

    This reminds me of how despite all the high tech satellite surveillance of Iraq, the wrong conclusions came out of the US intelligence agencies. Allen Dulles ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Dulles [wikipedia.org] ) was much better at recognizing the higher value of "human intellegence" (HUMINT).

    So what am I ranting about? I would rather be grilled a Inspector Columbo at a security check, than scanned by a machine operated by some doofus.

    That would make me feel much safer.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:40PM (#34286550)
    look him up. He has abused and manipulated his relationships with Homeland Security to try and make billions for him and his friends with the naked scanners. Part of the groping is to try and force people to use the scanners so they can sell more of them. Chertoff and Rapiscan Systems need to be indicted.
    • by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Friday November 19, 2010 @08:45PM (#34287868)

      look him up. He has abused and manipulated his relationships with Homeland Security to try and make billions for him and his friends with the naked scanners. Part of the groping is to try and force people to use the scanners so they can sell more of them. Chertoff and Rapiscan Systems need to be indicted.

      I imagine this will happen right after Bush & Cheney are sent to prison for their ties to Haliburton and other no-bid contract corporations. And *that* will happen right after Henry Kissinger is sent to prison for war crimes.

      In other words, don't hold your breath.

  • by redelm (54142) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:44PM (#34286600) Homepage

    The TSA searches are causing greater loss of useable lifetime than terrorists ever could. Each year, about 800 million people have to arrive one hour earlier at the airport to wait in lines and now suffer increased humiliation. Human beings only live for 700,000 hours. The TSA is wasting over 1000 lifetimes each year.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:49PM (#34286654) Homepage Journal

    but I don't let my dislike for him cloud my judgement of his individual ideas.

    This is a good one; even though his wording in trollish and flamebait worthy.

  • by peterofoz (1038508) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:59PM (#34286782) Homepage Journal
    If an employer requires you to travel as part of your job, and it can be argued that the TSA is taking nude photos and utilizing inappropriate touching during pat downs, what liability is an employer exposed to for making regular 'sexual assault' part of your job description?
  • by DarkOx (621550) on Friday November 19, 2010 @07:32PM (#34287156) Journal

    Because the airline screens are Government and nolonger private, I thin there is a First Amendment argument here.

    The pat downs obviously would violate the fourth Amendment there is no probably cause to suspect you of a crime just because you are in an airport and wish to board a plane. The procedure also takes in excess of 10min in some cases so even if there was cause it may exceed the bounds of a Terry stop; finally people have attempted to turn around and leave the airport rather than submit and been denied which makes everyone feel that we are not free to leave; which than becomes false imprisonment.

    Now the knee jerk response is going to be "but you don't have to go to the airport and get on a plane" its not a right; and therefore you cannot evoke the fourth. What if I live in New York and want to assemble with others in California later that afternoon? I could do so but for the fact the government is not letting my on a privately owned aircraft, that I purchased a ticket to get onto from a private carrier. By demanding I submit to my fourth amendment rights being violated they are infringing on my first amendment rights.
       

  • by TheSync (5291) on Friday November 19, 2010 @09:02PM (#34288010) Journal

    The full body scans are silly because Al Qaeda has ALREADY [cbsnews.com] used suicide bombers with explosives in their BODY CAVITIES. These are not exposed by full-body scanners that stop at the skin surface.

    From the linked article "Asieri had a pound of high explosives, plus a detonator inserted in his rectum." That was 2009.

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