March 7, 2012
By Steve Watson
“This is really disturbing. Watch how easy this guy gets through the naked body scanner with a metal object in his pocket. He does it not just once, but twice. Here is just one more example that the TSA is not here to protect us.” –KTRN
Google/YouTube has placed restrictions on yet another video that exposes the fraudulent claims of the TSA and highlights how the federal agency’s security theatre is part of a wider social manipulation agenda.
Engineer Jon Corbett of the popular blog TSA Out of Our Pants! posted a video yesterday that demonstrates how the TSA’s radiation firing body scanners can easily be bypassed.
The video shows Corbett carrying a metal case through the scanner, away from his body in his side pocket. Corbett explains that because metallic objects appear as black on the image the scanners produce, the machines do not pick up such objects if they are obscured by the background, which is also black.
Corbett has been rallying against the TSA for some time and has had several run ins with agents at airports. Corbett was also the first person in the country to sue the TSA for invasion of privacy. His case is still ongoing and is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The scanners are now effectively worthless, as anyone can beat them with virtually no effort.” Corbett writes on his blog. “The TSA has been provided this video in advance of it being made public to give them an opportunity to turn off the scanners and revert to the metal detectors. I personally believe they now have no choice but to turn them off.” he adds.
Within hours of the video being uploaded, blogs and news sites, including Yahoo News and the Mail Online had begun to pick up an the video, saying it was sure to go viral.
Now, despite the fact that the video contains no nudity, violence, abuse or other explicit content, YouTube has placed it behind an age restriction wall, meaning anyone who wants to view it on YouTube has to login or sign up for an account and verify their age.
“This video is not intended to teach anyone how to commit criminal acts, nor is intended to help “the terrorists” — if I could figure this out, I’m sure they’ve long figured it out, and by exposing it to the public, we now have an opportunity to correct it.” Corbett writes on his blog.
July 18th, 2011
By: Kashmir Hill
Last weekend, a Tennessee woman was arrested at the Nashville airport for disorderly conduct after she refused TSA security measures for her children. The woman didn’t want her two children to have to go through a whole-body-imaging scanner. When a Transportation Security Administration officer told her the machines were safe, she said, “I still don’t want someone to see our bodies naked.”
She won’t be pleased with a ruling then out of the D.C. Circuit today. This morning, the federal court ruled that the “naked scans” of air travelers do not violate Americans’ constitutional rights. Privacy rights group EPIC had sued the Department of Homeland Security, alleging violations of innocent passengers’ Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches. The court says that argument doesn’t fly.
In the opinion [pdf] from the D.C. Circuit Court (the Volokh Conspiracy), Judge Douglas Ginsburg writes that the advance imaging technology is not unreasonable given the security concerns on airplanes, and that people have the option to opt out for a pleasurable patdown. The court notes that some “have complained that the resulting patdown was unnecessarily aggressive,” but the judges don’t seem overly concerned about that. Ginsburg writes:
On the other side of the balance, we must acknowledge the steps the TSA has already taken to protect passenger privacy, in particular distorting the image created using AIT and deleting it as soon as the passenger has been cleared. More telling, any passenger may opt-out of AIT screening in favor of a patdown, which allows him to decide which of the two options for detecting a concealed, nonmetallic weapon or explosive is least invasive.
Good news for body scanner manufacturers Rapiscan and L-3. Bad news for those who don’t like having to choose between digital nudity and frisking. Legal scholar Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy expresses mild surprise at how easily the court dismissed privacy concerns with the TSA screens, as he regards the court as a Fourth-Amendment-friendly one.
There was a small rebuke in the opinion for the TSA. The judges ruled that the TSA had violated an administrative law requiring public comment before issuing a new rule making the body scanners their primary tool for airport security. It would be too disruptive to have the TSA stop using the scanners, writes Judge Ginsburg, but they do expect that the TSA will now take comments. In this case, “better late than never” doesn’t really mean much.
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March 21st, 2011
By: Ben Nuckols
Hundreds rallied outside a Virginia Marine Corps base to protest the treatment of an imprisoned Army private suspected of providing classified data to Wikileaks.
About 30 people were arrested today at the rally protesting the pretrial detention of Pfc. Bradley Manning. About two-dozen rallies were held around the world.
Manning is being held in solitary confinement at the Quantico base’s brig. He’s confined to his cell 23 hours a day and forced to strip naked before bed. The military says the conditions of his detention are justified.
Protesters chanted “Free Bradley Manning” and confronted dozens of police officers in riot gear outside the entrance to the base. A short scuffle ensued. The arrests were made after protesters refused to vacate the intersection at the base entrance.
September 8, 2010
by John Hughes
Holli Powell, a Phoenix medical- software consultant who flies every week, says she avoids getting into airport security lines that end at what she calls a humiliating full-body scanner.
“Those scanners, I feel, are above and beyond,” Powell, 35, said in an interview. They generate “nearly naked images.”
The concerns of travelers such as Powell, which led privacy advocates to sue the government, may soon be eased. L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. and OSI Systems Inc.’s Rapiscan, makers of the scanners for U.S. airports, are delivering software upgrades that show a generic figure rather than an actual image of a passenger’s body parts. The new display would mark sections of a person’s body that need to be checked.
The revisions “certainly address most of the privacy concerns,” Peter Kant, a Rapiscan executive vice president, said in an interview. Every passenger will generate an avatar that “looks like a guy wearing a baseball cap,” he said.
The Transportation Security Administration aims to add the software to the machines, which sparked complaints, as more airports get the scanners. As of Aug. 27, 194 of the devices were in use at 51 U.S. airports, an almost fivefold increase from six months ago,
“TSA continues to explore additional privacy protections for imaging technology,” Greg Soule, a spokesman for the security agency, said in an e-mail. “Testing is currently under way.”
The agency is accelerating use of the scanners after the U.S. said Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on approach to Detroit Dec. 25 by igniting explosives in his underpants. The 1,000 scanners due at airports by the end of next year will put the devices at more than half the security lanes at major U.S. airports.
The 28 airports getting scanners in the second half of this year include New York’s Kennedy and Philadelphia, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Houston, Miami, Baltimore, Minneapolis and Seattle, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in July.
New York-based L-3, which already has one of its revised scanners in use at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, presented its upgrade to the U.S. security agency Aug. 31, and the technology is now being reviewed in a federal laboratory, according to the company.
“We look forward to a successful trial and certification process with the TSA this fall,” Bill Frain, an L-3 senior vice president for government sales, said in a statement.
OSI’s Rapiscan, based in Torrance, California, plans to present software for its machines this month, Kant said. The software change will be tested by the agency, he said.
L-3 and Rapiscan shared a $47.9 million contract in April for 302 of the scanners. L-3 will get $31.7 million to build 202 machines and Rapiscan $16.2 million for 100. The funds were to come from last year’s $814 billion stimulus law.
The software changes are “a pretty substantial development” for the companies and “something that TSA has wanted,” said Jeffrey Sural, an attorney for Alston & Bird LLP in Washington and a former assistant administrator at the security agency. “There’s still a long way to go,” and months will be spent testing the technology, he said.
Using full-body imaging technology is voluntary, though passengers who refuse to be scanned may be frisked by U.S. security employees. The agency said data show when passengers were offered the choice of the scanner or alternate screening such as a pat-down, more than 98 percent chose scanners.
Machines now at airports are monitored by a TSA employee in a separate room, to prevent passengers and security workers at the checkpoint from viewing the full-body image that sees through undergarments. The software upgrade would replace the images with an avatar and alert authorities to a potential hidden threat, eliminating the need to keep an employee in a remote room.
The upgrade “really reduces the personnel costs,” Rapiscan’s Kant said. The Government Accountability Office estimated in March that agency staffing costs could climb $2.4 billion over seven years from expanded use of scanners, assuming current staffing requirements.
Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a civil liberties group that sued the agency in July over the devices, said revising the machine software “makes a lot of sense” from an engineering standpoint.
Linking, Saving Images
The upgrades don’t resolve privacy questions, said Rotenberg, whose Washington-based group objects to the use of the devices as a primary screening tool. The agency may someday decide it wanted to record passenger images or link scan results to traveler names, he said.
“Over time there’s every reason to believe TSA would want to know the identities of passengers, because it would make threat detection more informed,” Rotenberg said.
Powell said she will continue to allow extra time before her flights to find the line that won’t force her to walk through the body scanners, even if they are upgraded. The devices are still capable of transmitting and storing images, she said, and that “is scary.”