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Fort Wayne International Airport is the latest airport to get the full-body scanners, which brings the total US airports to 23. I have not hidden my opinion that full-body scanners are a bad choice due to the fact that they violate a passenger’s privacy and can be easily avoided.

Last week a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker at Miami International Airport ended up being arrested, after a co-worker teased him about his genitals.

Rolando Negrin  was being scanned as a training exercise when a co-worker started to repeatedly harass him for the size of his “manhood.” Witnesses say Negrin lost it and started to hit his co-worker with a police baton. Negrin could be heard saying in Spanish, “get on your knees or I will kill you and you better apoligise [sic].”

The TSA has a zero-violence policy and stated, “we are investigating to determine whether other officers may have violated procedures in a training session with coworkers and committed professional misconduct.”

The TSA likes to note that this incident was internal and did not involve the general public. However, we have already seen the body scanners abused in public once and as they are used more, I am sure we will see them abused again.

When scanning passengers, the TSA says that a screener views the live image in a remote location and the images will be permanently deleted, never being stored. However, in a letter to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the TSA states they have 2,000 test images stored, using TSA personal, at its test facility. This means that the system has the capability to store images, not to mention workers could sneak in cameras or phones.

EPIC has tried to gain access to the test images to see how privacy might be violated, but the TSA has refused to release them. EPIC has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security under the Freedom of Information Act seeking details about the government’s use of advanced imaging technology. Many fear if the scans are publicly released, it will allow people to learn how to beat the system. Right now the system is really easy to beat, just refuse to be scanned and ask for a pat-down.

How much is all this wonderful security costing you, the tax payers? Only $6Billion per year. According to Stanford Daily, when airport security was still privatized in 2001, it only cost $700Million. Even in comparing with 2001 prices, that is $700million versus $4.6Billion.

It is frustrating to see stories like this continue to pop-up. I am sure this will not be the last story of a passenger’s rights being violated. Stay tuned…

Image: Tektum

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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19 Comments

First of all, TSA was NEVER Private. TSA is, has been, and always will be a government agency. The cost figures presented in the Stanford article are akin to comparing apples and oranges, or perhaps more appropriately, comparing a DC-6 to a 747. The systems in place are absolutely different. The technology is more sophisticated, screeners are paid a living wage–whereas when private contractors performed the service many screeners were leaving their job for others at the airport in food service because the pay was better.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much a privacy advocate, but I don’t believe that this poses the threat that is being wailed about, nor is it at the same level of threat as the government monitoring one’s phone calls or network of acquaintances.

The irony here whether it is about the money spent or the processes used is that everyone wants air transportation to be secure, but nobody wants to pay for it, and more irritatingly to me, nobody wants to be inconvenienced by it. If you want a secure system, work with it. Nothing will give us 100% security, but something tells me that whenever there is a breach, its those that don’t want to pay for it or be inconvenienced by it that will scream the loudes.

Hey Chris!

I mis-typed about the TSA being privatized and have updated it to show when airport security was privatized…thanks!

If I felt the higher costs meant better security, I would be all for it. Really there are two arguments I have going on with these scanners:

#1: They violate a person’s privacy and shouldn’t be used
#2: People can avoid them, so no matter how great they are (and even if they didn’t violate privacy)

I would be willing to pay a heck of a lot to know I am secure when flying. But what I am paying for right now definitely is not making me secure.

While I do agree that these scanners may not be worth the time and bother with the ability to by pass them. This has nothing to do with privacy for the general public. When you are scanned at the airport you don’t know the scanner operator and they don’t know you. They will be seeing lots of peoples privates and will see all ranges. They won’t remember yours unless you have something horribly wrong with you. If you are insecure about your manhood that is your own problem but there isn’t a need to preach about privacy issues like it is really going to be a problem.

We all have the right to privacy. To me this has nothing to do with someone seeing me naked, it has to do with my own personal rights as an American citizen. We want to protect America, so we can all be free and have those rights.

In theory, this person seeing my naked body should be secured and I will never see them again, but these incidents keep showing, the body scanners aren’t going as planned and people are having their privacy violated.

Imagine if you were a hermaphrodite (having both male and female sex organs) or had a catheter and this is something you would want to keep private. You should have the right to fly on and airplane and keep that private. No one, not even some stranger making $14/hr should be able to know that.

Say i wanted to keep the fact that I have a ceramic knife and some c4 taped up near my junk I should be able to keep that private too right?

You do bring up a good point. All this security has a line of privacy vs security and when does the line go too far?

For me, if there is a will, there is a way. If someone really wants to do harm to an airline, they will find a way to do it. It is not worth me losing my rights to assure that I might not die due to terrorism. I don’t know if you read my blog on looking at other methods other than technology (read it here: http://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/04/tsa-argues-body-scanners-are-worth-it-israel-provides-helpful-insights/), but I think a mixture of proper training and technology can be a good fit for being secure and keeping our rights.

David

Oops, I see you must have read it, because you commented. I was gone for a week and just going through comments right now, I will get to that one soon 🙂

David

Steve S

If we MUST have body scanners, then this is the only system most of us could live with. MMW scanner (no X-Rays)with automatic, computerized detection that uses no screener for the raw images. The raw images are never seen. It is in use in Amsterdam (where the crotch bomber came through – he wasn’t scanned though). Smart people, these Dutch!

The BONEHEADS at TSA thinks it’s not good enough (yet), but it’s pretty clear that eventually automatic detection without naked pictures will rule.

It would be Politically correct and doesn’t offend anyone. Also no chance for misuse and ridicule. Can’t happen soon enough.

Watch here:
http://www.schipholtv.com/2010/01/07/de-security-scan/

and here:
http://www.sds.l-3com.com/advancedimaging/provision-at.htm

Until this comes about – OPT-OUT!

Pass this on to your government representatives and PUSH them to do the correct thing! Get rid of TSA smurfs looking at naked bodies! Nothing good can come of this!

BTW: Stay out of the X-Ray scanners (Rapiscan). They promise to multiply the incidents of Cataracts, Testicular and Breast cancer, as the xrays only penetrate the first 1/2 inch of tissue, multiplying the dose by 20-25.

Join us in protest and discussion on Facebook:
All Facebook Against Airport Full Body Scanners

Patricia

Ah, Airport Scanners!
Those Expensive, Invasive violators of civil liberties which terrorists will foil simply by shoving the explosive up into their voided bowels.

Here’s a SUPER simple, super cheap, super NON-INVASIVE solution: DOGS!

Dogs in the military and cops are trained to smell C4, chemical and bioweapons.
Dogs can smell cancer.
Dogs can smell things in really crowded or remarkably decayed condition, which means they will be able to tell if you touched something hours ago.
They can also smell Illicit drugs and fear.

Upside: Muslim extremeists (not normal muslims) think dogs are dirty and avoid them like the plague, so they provide passive protection through their just sitting there. Also, any dog can be trained to do this and there are TONS of Shelter dogs.

Win-Win-Win

Grannies and children will stop being harrased
Non-radical Muslims will stop being harrased
Dogs will stop being killed in droves
Taxpayers will save lots of money
Faster line processing

Who loses?
Terrorists who want to change our way of life and squelch our freedom.
Politicians who want to spend money and increase govt control of our lives.
The scanner companies who won’t sell as many scanners.
Perverts and pedophiles who won’t get nudie pics of old ladies and little children.
TSA workers being hired in droves off pizza boxes and enjoying the power rushes.

I think this is a fantastic solution. Me tested, constitution approved.

Hey Patricia!

You come up with some pretty good ideas. The only issue I can see are those people that are afraid of dogs, how do you get around those?

Although I rather deal with making dogs easy to be around than keep using the body scanners!

David

Patricia

Well, I suppose if you are afraid of dogs, you can opt for a strip-search? There are also machines that can smell *nearly* as good as dogs when it comes to chemical explosives. I really don’t have an answer to that, saddly.

Nothing in life is 100% safe and free of discomfort and if someone wants to do something bad, we may not be able to stop them 100% of the time. However, I would rather live a slightly risky and free life (for myself and my family), than be coddled to death.

There has to be a way we can come to a reasonable and equitable compromise on this issue, without disenfrancising anyone or subjecting anyone to an unneccessary cancer risk. My $0.02.

Think about this….if you would be carrying weapons, c4, any explosives, or anything of concern, they will want to investigate. if you pass, done and done. if you are found carrying such weapons, they will have reason to have the scanners to make sure people don’t die from a hi-jacker taking over a plane like in 9/11

Think about this….if you would be carrying weapons, c4, any explosives, or anything of concern, they will want to investigate. if you pass, done and done. if you are found carrying such weapons, they will have reason to have the scanners to make sure people don’t die from a hi-jacker taking over a plane like in 9/11 and destroying and killing.

I’m opposing full body scanner not based on privacy!
I’m ready to strip for a female strip searcher. I’m a female!
My objection not a privacy manner, but health concern. Ionized radiation can be deadly!
Alters DNA! Accumulates! It is a kind of genocide for the IGNORANT!
If I have something beeping by the gate because metal implant, instead of entering into the Full Body Scanner I would start to strip in public unless offered a private search room, before I cause a scandal!
After all God created us naked, but did not created Ionized Full body X-ray! Wake up People!!!!!!!
I would allow my child to be searched to! In case that I could be suspect to hide matters on them…
That way I can protest in all languages!
You people are fools if you concentrate just on privacy. It is your over all health in question! Ionized X-ray alters sensitive individuals, which means from 800 million 40 million can be effected with permanent DNA damage!If the system forces security, at least I want a choice! Innocent man, who has nothing to hide (or woman) will begin to strip right on the spot!
I do not care how deep and where they taping me! After all this is for security! Right?
I see morons who protect privacy over health!
Brain damage! Cataract of the eye! Lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia can be resulted for repeated ionized radiation!
This is what you should keep in mind, and only for this reason you should protest!
Animals are protected by PETA, so everything must be tested on us, the humans!

People need to wake up to the fact that the government will use scare tactics to continue to steal your freedoms and control you. This is just another slap in the face assault on them. From king kong at chembio
Those poor TSA agents. Just doing their jobs. Trying to protect the safety of travelers…by groping their private parts. And now everyone is getting on their case.

One woman charged that her blouse had been pulled down, exposing her breasts to the whole airport…and that TSA agents laughed about it. One said he had missed the action. But no problem. He’ll watch the video, he said.
Now how is this for a scary though. People wake up. Continued.
Did it ever discourage a bomber…so he had to take his rig and blow up a bus or a train or maybe even a golf cart instead? Not that we’ve ever heard about.

We’ve never been mistreated by an agent of the TSA. Bullied, yes. Threatened, yes. They’ve been impolite on occasion. We’ve been patted down so vigorously we didn’t know whether to leave a tip or lodge a complaint.

But we try to maintain a sense of humor.

“The trouble with you, is you just don’t get it,” said a paranoid friend lately. “Can’t you see? This TSA has nothing to do with keeping out bad guys. It’s about keeping us in. They’re not really there to make the airlines safer. Instead, it is just a preparation. They are getting Americans accustomed to following orders, standing in line, and acting like half-wits. They are also training up a whole class of goons. These guys don’t ask whether it really makes sense to pat down girl scouts and look at old ladies naked. They just do whatever they’re told to do. And they probably enjoy it.

“There are always some people like that – ready to be concentration camp guards and exterminators. The TSA program helps the authorities identify these people.”

“Why?” we asked.

“Who knows…maybe they just want power. Maybe they just want a docile population so they can do what they want.”

 

I vote for the Pooch Patrol. The problem is big, so make it smaller.
When you weigh in the factors: cost, inconvenience, privacy, time, etc.
Dogs are still the best answer. Arguments against dogs include they only last a few hours, well, how about having two shifts? Let’s have a test to see how long a TSA agent lasts. I bet their attention span is not much better if measured in reliability. They say people are afraid of dogs. Well, they encounter a random exposure to a dog anywhere in the US – if they don’t stay in a closed environment. That excuse doesn’t hold water. It’s not like the dogs are running around willy nilly! Narrow the number of dogs needed by limiting the number of entrances to each airport facility. Have a limited number of curbside entrances. Again, I bet the delay there is much less than the parade of undressing at the magnetometers. I think the concept of dogs has been pushed aside like all the other ideas that limit the politicians from having a comfort zone with their special interest groups and voting blocks. The naked truth is that professionally trained dogs can’t be bribed like people, and they don’t vote.

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