Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hate privacy? Then you'll love traveling

Don't leave home without it ... Your metal-foil underwear that is. Airports in Phoenix, Los Angeles (LAX), Baltimore, New York (JFK), Denver, Dallas Forth-Worth, Albuquerque, Miami, Las Vegas and Detroit either are using or soon will use millimeter-wave whole body imagers which "[i]n a matter of seconds ... can detect weapons, explosives and other threat items concealed under layers of clothing without physical contact." Basically, it produces a three-dimensional nude picture of subjects for the viewing pleasure of a government employee.

According to the TSA:

  • Beams of radio frequency (RF) energy in the millimeter wave spectrum are projected over the body’s surface at high speed from two antennas simultaneously as they rotate around the body

  • The RF energy reflected back from the body or other objects on the body is used to construct a three-dimensional image

  • The three-dimensional image of the body, with facial features blurred for privacy, is displayed on a remote monitor for analysis

The TSA says the imagers will be used, at least initially, on a voluntary basis for secondary screenings. But not everybody is convinced the strip-down technology will be used so non-coercively. From the Miami Herald:

"We really question how voluntary this test it is, no matter what the TSA says," said Charlene Sawyer, president of the Greater Miami American Civil Liberties Union. "The TSA may say these scanners will be used only for secondary screening, but these scanners will be used as a primary search for random selectees."

The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the use to the scanners as part of a routine scanning procedure, she said. It's only OK when there is probable cause, although what that means is also up for debate, Ms. Sawyer said. ...

For passengers, she said, the X-rays are "the technological equivalent of parading around naked with a bag on their head."

If you think that air travel is starting to resemble a very-expensive East Germany-nostalgia tour and you'd prefer a less-intrusive alternative, you might consider traveling by train. Well, except, not on Amtrak, which implemented random bag searches, armed guards and bomb-sniffing dogs earlier this year.

Even local travel is iffy, since New York City has been subjecting subway passengers to annoying searches for the past three years. Los Angeles's MetroLink implemented a similar policy this week, apparently just so officials there wouldn't feel left out. Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell told the Los Angeles Times:

"It's more in response to what has become standard procedure at other commuter rail agencies across the country," she said. "We were one of the few who wasn't doing this, and we thought it would be a good idea to step up the security a little bit."

Well, you could always stay at home. Telecommuting looks better than ever.

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Blogger Bill said...

There may be a business opportunity here. I know that one can get material with conductive threads embedded in it -- used for clothing in static sensitive environments. Special "travel" clothing made of such stuff might sell very well. It would need to be tested, of course, to see if it shielded well enough. The foil underwear would work great but be a bit uncomfortable. (I know you are just kidding.)

June 20, 2008 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Chad Steele said...

Take self adhesive mylar sheet cut out lettering in a mirror image and then stick it to the inside of clothing.

have it say such things as:

For Women:
1) Only in your dreams
2) Quit staring at my breasts
3) Pervert

For Men:
1) Arrow pointing down "big isn't it"
2) Arrow pointing down "I'd like this up your butt"
3) Are you gay?

For Kids:
What are you, a pedophile?
Are you Catholic?

August 8, 2008 12:44 AM  
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^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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March 19, 2009 1:01 AM  

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