Security at Denver International Airport
If you are flying today or in the future, you might want to double check that your ticket has all the new Secure FlightÂ informationÂ required by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This means your ticket must have your name, date of birth and gender that matches your state issued identification.
I am sure you are aware of the TSA’s watch list. This is a big list with a lot of names of people that shouldn’t be flying or need to have a special screening. Previously airlines have beenÂ responsibleÂ for checking passenger’s names on the watch list and now that will fall to the TSA. There have also been a lot of mistakes with the list, causing frustration for many Americans.
Of course in the name of making us all safer than we already are (yes there is a bit of sarcasm there), the TSA is upgrading their watch list. Most of these changes you won’t notice, unless your boarding pass doesn’t match your ID. Do not worry, if you bought your ticket in the last year, you should be fine. Most airlines have been collecting Secure Flight Information for a while now.
“Delta began requesting Secure Flight data from customers on August 15, 2009. As of June 12, 2010, passengers were required to provide the information,” Susan Elliott with Delta communications told me. When asked what will happen with passengers without Secure Flight information, she explained, “The TSA is requiring the information for all passengers as of November 1 and customers that have not provided their full name, gender and date of birth at least 72 hours in advance may have their reservation canceled.”
It might be worth your time to double check via your online reservation. Although the TSA won’t let you change your reservation and add the additional information 72 hours before your flight, you can still make a brand new reservation up until the time the flight leaves.
The TSA isn’t totally clear how off your name has to be before not letting you fly. On their TSA blog they talk about what will happen if names don’t match, but they come far from being obvious. What if my ticket has David vs Dave. What if you have a hyphenated last name? How about if you have many different names? In what situations will the TSA let you fly and in which will they not?
One of the big issues I have had with the TSA isÂ consistency. Different locations do not enforce the rules the same and how can we expect this to be any different? What if the TSA gives you authorization at one airport, but you can’t make it home from another?
Will we be safer because of these changes? No, I do not think so. Might there be less people being harassed because of errors with the watch list? Probably. Will there be more people harassed and inconvenienced because of name issues? I am guessing so.
Make sure photographers don't steal planes!
When I saw this poster yesterday via Carlos Miller on Photography is Not a Crime, I thought it might have been fake.Â Making photographers look like bad people is a bad idea. It will cause more people to be fearful and waste the time of law enforcement officials. Yes, if you see someone by an airport doing something suspicious, report it. Taking photos of aircraft is notÂ suspicious.
Every time I fly I am constantly taking photos. I used to use an HD camcorder, but decided to stop and use a standard digital camera. There have been multiple times I have received odd looks for taking photos using the camcorder and I even hadÂ a run-in with the TSA.
If you are a photographer and “get caught,” it might be a good time to inform them of your hobby. Drewski2112 shared on Airliners.net about his run-ins with the law plane spotting in Seattle. He once had five cars pull up on him at the same time. Instead of getting angry, he calmly explained what he was doing, shared his passion and by the time they left, some were asking for his website address to take a look at his photos. I only hope I could keep that calm and collective if I had five cop cars on me due to being a perceivedÂ security risk.
Unfortunatly this poster is not a fake, but it is very real. Knowing that many people were upset about the poster, the TSA confirmed on their blog yesterday. They tried to play it off that photographers are important for seeing suspicious activity, but I am not buying it. “In fact, many photographers would be prime candidates to use such vigilance programs to report suspicious activity since theyâ€™re extremely observant of their surroundings.” I am guessing this is more of an afterthought.
Photographers are not criminals and they should not be treated as such. If you do take airport-related photos, don’t let fear of law enforcement stop you, but be prepared. Have identification on you, know your local laws and try to talk to them with a smile and be proud of what you are doing. Oh and if you get some good airplane photos, email them on over to me and I would love to share them on the blog!
It is time to improve privacy!
I haven’t been able to talk about body scanners for a while and it is about time I bring them up again. When I blog about them or am doing research, I constantly see the same argument, “What’s the big deal, we all have the same parts, get over it.”
The thing is we are not all the same and even if we are, we still have a right to privacy. With my obvious dis-like (maybe that is too nice of a word) for the body scanners, I get people who write me in support and calling me Â fool. Recently I had a woman write me who is Â a pre-operative transsexual, meaning she self-defines as a woman, but still has maleÂ genitalia. It isÂ absolutelyÂ her right to keep her situation private and no one should have the ability to invade her privacy. Talking about privacy, I will call her “Jane” to keep her anonymous for this blog.
I asked Jane what it is like being asked to go through a body scanner and she told me, “that having to go through a body scanner would be particularly difficult for me as the body scanners actually reveal a personâ€™s gender. ” She also explained it becomes even more difficult because she has, “anxiety which makes the thought of using these even more difficult.”
Jane lives in the UK and unlike in the US, passengers cannot opt-out of body scanners. If you get “randomly selected” , you must be scanned or you don’t fly.
Another argument people often use is, “if you don’t like it, don’t fly then.” There are so many reasons why this argument is weak. If you don’t agree with something, you should stand up for what you think is right and try to change the system.
Jane told me she doesn’t fly as much now due to the fear and has missed out on some very important life experiences. “I have relatives in India who I would like to see again and would also like to travel to India to pay my respects to relatives who have died but feel unable to pass through an airport whilst passing through a body scanner is a condition to boarding my flight,” Jane explained.
We are a global society and need to allow people to fly around the world to continue to grow and prosper. We should not become Â society that violates a person’s privacy, so passengers can get a false sense of security that the body scanners provide.
Trans-gender fliers, disabled passengers, folks with body issues and those that have gone through aÂ traumaticÂ experience involving their body should not have to endure invasive security to be able to function in our society. Is giving up your privacy worth the false sense of security you get going through body scanners? I sayÂ absolutelyÂ not.
A passenger gets scanned in a body scanner.
Ah body scanners. One of my favorite topics to write about (or hate on). If you have missed out on previous posts let me re-cap why I don’t like them:
* They violate our privacy. Not just people seeing your almost-naked bodies, but those that might have a disability and really don’t want some TSA agent to see it.
* They can be avoided. All you have to do is say, “no,” and you can get a pat-down. Not even trying, I avoided the body scanner and a pat-down.
* I hate the, “what about the children,” argument, but do you want your child’s scans looked at by some stranger?
* They already have been, and I assure you will continue to be, abused.
* There is now talk that these scanners give you more radiation than once thought.
* They cost a lot and do nothing more than provide a false sense of security for passengers.
Now Senators Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced a bill to require all commercial airports to have and use body scanners by 2013. The bill is called the Securing Aircraft From Explosives Responsibly: Advanced Imaging Recognition Act. If that is too long for you, there is a fun acronym: S.A.F.E.R. A.I.R. Act. I wonder how much time they spent on the acronym versus seeing how this bill would really make passengers safer.
The Senators feel the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been spending too much time testing out the body scanners and need to get them installed ASAP nationwide. Currently the scanners are installed in only 48 airports across the US.
The bill requires that body images “cannot be stored, transferred, copied or printed,” and it forbids security personnel from having cameras near the machinery. Of course we all know that every TSA agent has followed all the rules already associated with the body scanners (that is sarcasm). I understand that most TSA employees take their job very seriously and do not abuse the system, but it only takes a few to make the whole agency look bad.
I have written a lot about these scanners and seem to have people just argue that they are better than nothing or if you don’t like them, don’t fly. I haven’t seen how the system is currently planned to be set up, how it makes us any safer. I would love to be proved wrong on this.
Thank you Chris Salman for point this out!
Source: RawStory.com Image: CRozeman
You can see a woman being scanned. The TSA agent who yelled at me is standing in the metal detector.
I have made my opinion on body scanners quite clear. If you have missed it, bottom line is I don’t like them. They violate our privacy and passengers are able to avoid them and request a pat-down, making them pointless.
On Sunday I flew from Tampa to Seattle via Denver and got my first view of the body scanners in action at Tampa International Airport. The scanner is not too imposing, but it is obviously something different. There are a few body images by the scanner that show you what it does, but they are small and people are rushed by them.
The whole time I was waiting in the security line, the body scanner wasn’t being used. By the time I was taking off my shoes, they had started pushing passengers into the scanner versus the metal detector.
I started to get excited. Not to try it out, but to respectfully decline going through the body scanner and get a pat-down instead. Well maybe excited is not the right word. The thought of having some stranger feel around my body isn’t Â great, but I wanted to take a little stand against the privacy invading machines.
I was flying with my girlfriend, Amy, and even though she knew about the scanners (or had heard me rant about them from time to time), she really didn’t understand my true dislike of them. The two people before us were told to go in the scanners. Then I was next, but I started going to the metal detector instead. I was waiting to be told I had to do the scanner or pulled aside to get a pat-down, but I was not. I just walked through the metal detector while the people in front of me and behind me were all forced into the body scanner. Now that is a big hole in security.
From what I have read, a passenger who does not do the body scanner, must be patted down. However it seemed unorganized and I don’t think the TSA agent at the metal detector realized people were being pushed into the body scanner.
Amy wasn’t so lucky. She felt rushed and not really sure what was going on and didn’t decline being scanned.Â They made sure she had no foreign items on her, she had to raise her hands and the scanner went around her and then she had to stand outside of the scanner with a TSA agent holding herÂ in a roped off area (everyone had to do this). He was waiting for someone in another area to view her body images and confirm she was clean. He was talking to them via radio, but they didn’t seem to be working. It took about a minute for him to get a response that the two females could go (Amy was one of them). I trust it was a radio error and those images weren’t on the screen any longer than they needed to be.
After I was done and Amy was waiting to hear she was clear to go, I was takingÂ some photos of her and the scanner. This is when the TSA sprung into action. From the metal detector I heard, “sir, you cannot do that.” I confirmed he was talking to me and that I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the body scanner. I am not exactly sure if there are rules against taking photos. I guess someone might Â take photos and learn how to beat the system? Well I don’t need to take photos to see how the system doesn’t really work, you just had to ask for a pat-down or in my case, just go through the metal detector. They never came over to take my photos or talk to me, so obviously it couldn’t have been that big of a deal to them.
What doesn’t make sense is they took action against me for taking photos, but no one noticed I didn’t go through the body scanner nor get a pat-down. It is so inconsistent. By no means was I trying to do this on purpose, but I imagine similar experiences are happening like this all around the world.
I know I talk negatively about these scanners, but I feel there is some hope in the near future. There are body scanners with Automated Target Recognition that have the ability where no human actually sees your image. The computer looks at your body scan and if there are any foreign items, it will flag you and the TSA will inspect you. There is a display of a stick figure only. If they had this version, which didn’t violate privacy, and it was required, not optional, I could get behind the body scanners. But until then, I will continue to voice my strong opinion against them and about the inconsistencies of theirÂ usage. However, the TSA says there is no system they feel meets their security needs yet.