AK State Rep. takes ferry back home after refusing TSA full body scan

When Alaska State Rep. Sharon Cissna tried to fly from Seattle back home to Juneau, she was was directed towards one of the new full body scanning machines. When something showed up on the scanner that needed extra attention, she was told she’d need a full pat-down instead.

Cissna, who has a mastectomy refused the invasive security treatment and left the airport, opting to travel back to Alaska by ferry.

The journey on the ferry from Seattle to Juneau takes twelve hours, but it doesn’t involve being subjected to invasive TSA security measures.

Her chief of staff reports that she did indeed undergo a full body scan that showed her mastectomy. It was not clear why the full body scan then required a followup pat-down.

Kudos to her for taking a stand and refusing to deal with this security theater. After investing millions in these new scanners, and giving up a lot of our privacy, there should be absolutely no need to force passengers to go through three different levels of security just to get on a plane.

100 controversial whole body imaging photos revealed

Gadget blog Gizmodo.com has obtained access to 100 images captured by a whole body imaging machine that was installed at a Florida courthouse. We covered the incident back in August, but a Freedom of Information Act request has finally produced the actual photos.

When these machines were installed, we were all told that none of them would actually store photos. As images started leaking out, it became obvious that these claims were of course false. In the video clip created by Gizmodo, you see people occupying the scanner, along with his or her body scan.

There is some good news – as the images clearly show that they don’t reveal all that much. People hoping to see clear images of genitalia will be quite disappointed.

Still, it is quite alarming that the images were stored in the first place – though we do need to point out that this particular scanner was not operated by the TSA – it is a millimeter wave scanner, operated by the U.S. Marshals service. Even though the technology and operation is slightly different from the airport machines, the resulting images are very similar.

Of course it also means that despite all the reassurances, the machines are capable of storing photos, and I am confident that it is just a matter of time till an airport is involved in a similar privacy incident.

What do you think? Do these photos make you more or less afraid to use the whole body scanning machines?


[Image from Gizmodo.com]


German body scanner protesters remove clothes at airport

In Germany, a “fleshmob” of semi-naked activists from the Pirate Party staged a body scanner protest at the Berlin-Tegel Airport, reports Discover magazine. German authorities plan to begin using “Nacktscanners,” or AIT (Advanced Imaging Technology), which uses high frequency radio waves to produce images of a passenger’s naked body, across the country within the next two years.

Here and elsewhere abroad, the TSA and its international partners are increasingly employing body scanners as an airport security measure, so items like explosives, weapons, or drugs can be detected beneath a passenger’s clothing. The use of the scanners has become a subject of much public controversy, ever since the would-be “underwear bomber” was thwarted at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Dec. 25 of last year. Many passengers feel that the use of full-body scanners is a violation of their privacy.

Wired states that the German protesters scrawled comments such as, “Be a good citizen–drop your pants,” and “prosthetic [with arrow pointing to the wearer’s leg],” on their bodies. One flesh-toned-clothed woman bore a sign reading, “pixelated,” referring to the option modest passengers have to request a scanner be programmed to produce a blurred image of their body.

For more information on your rights as an air traveler, Reddit has created Fly with Dignity, a “site-based initiative to inform the public.” Want to personally protest body scanners? National Opt-Out Day is November 24th.

Body scanners used as porn by airport security

It had to happen sooner or later.

The Nigerian newspaper This Day has reported that security officials at Lagos airport are getting their jollies by watching female passengers go through a full-body scanner.

Nigerian investigative reporters visited the airport during a slow period when security officials had time to spare. The journalists found some of them hanging around the scanner display. Since the scanner blurs the face in an attempt to give anonymity, the officers were hurrying over to the line to peek at the passengers before going back to the scanner to check out their favorites.

The scanner was installed after the failed attack by underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was from Lagos, yet technicians have revealed a full-body scan wouldn’t have caught him. An Israeli security expert who helped plan security at Israel’s super-strict Ben Gurion Airport says body scanners don’t work. Israeli airports don’t use the device.

Many Nigerians feel it is against their religion to expose themselves to a stranger, while others fear the effects of radiation. The investigative journalists witnessed passengers objecting to go through the scanner until security turned off one of the metal detectors, giving them the choice of using the full-body scanner or waiting in a longer line.

New York area airports no longer immune from the whole body imaging machine

After the rest of the country, the large New York area airports are next in line to receive the infamous whole body imaging scanners. The Port Authority announced that La Guardia, JFK and Newark will receive 39 of the machines (24 for JFK, 14 for Newark and 1 for LaGuardia).

As of right now, the machines are still voluntary, and are only used when you have been selected for secondary screening. You are allowed to opt-out and request an old fashioned pat-down, but TSA agents often “forget” to point this out, as a manual screening takes more time.

The machines themselves are still quite controversial, and not without their problems – just ask Rolando Negrin, who beat up his supervisor after he was mocked for his “small manhood” during a TSA training session. Jo Margetson is probably not a big fan either, after a checkpoint operator complimented her on her “gigantic tits“. But more importantly, the safety aspects of these machines have not been fully tested.

The first batch of machines will be installed in New York next month.

[Photo from Getty Images]