Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's time for us to drop the hyper concerns over privacy

I just don't get all the privacy fears over the full body scan machines. Much has been done to address privacy concerns for airport passengers.
Depending on the specific technology used, faces might be obscured or bodies reduced to the equivalent of a chalk outline. Also, the person reviewing the images must be in a separate room and cannot see who is entering the scanner. The machines have been modified to make it impossible to store the images, Ms. Lee said, and the procedure “is always optional to all passengers.” Anyone who refuses to be scanned “will receive an equivalent screening”: a full pat-down.
I realize that there are concerns that we'd find pictures of our body scans to end up on the internet, but there could be modifications to the machines so that no one could extract a file and post it somewhere else. But I don't see the wisdom in making sure that the scans aren't saved. What if someone got through and we found out that he'd found a way to smuggle explosives past the scanning machines. Wouldn't we want to be able to go back to the machine and find out what had happened and how he'd done it? Perhaps the pictures could be stored for at least 24 hours, but then if there is no way to identify whose scan is whose, that wouldn't do us any good. Critics point out that if we plug the hole in airport security, we'd still be vulnerable in other ways.
However, he added, body imaging technology has its limits — the machines cannot, for example, detect objects stowed in bodily orifices or concealed within the folds of an obese person’s flesh.

Bruce Schneier, a security expert who has been critical of the technology, said the latest incident had not changed his mind.

“If there are a hundred tactics and I protect against two of them, I’m not making you safer,” he said. “If we use full-body scanning, they’re going to do something else.”

The millions of dollars being spent on new equipment, he said, would be better invested in investigation and intelligence work to detect bombers before they get to any airport.
Well, we saw how much all that investigation and intelligence work did for us to prevent the Christmas undie bomber. The only thing that saved those people's lives on that Northwest flight, were the alert and brave actions by individuals aboard that flight.

Sure, if it was harder for them to blow up an airplane, they'll switch to something else. Does that mean that we don't protect the airplanes to the fullest extent possible? I'm struck how, eight years after 9/11 and all the security provisions put into place at airports, that terrorists are still aiming at airplanes. So we still need to protect ourselves there. For myself, I'm much less embarrassed by such a body scan done anonymously than a personal pat-down. Would I like to be able to stroll aboard an airplane 20 minutes before takeoff? Sure. But we're not living in that world anymore. Let's get real, folks.


Bachbone said...

Pix worse than those appear voluntarily on You Tube daily!

RiverRat said...

Hmmm! the next solution for the terrorists will be ingestible explosives in time release capsules. How about we start with little god awful work like "profiling"?

RiverRat said...

Hmmm! The terrorists next solution will be ingestible time-release capsules of explosives. What do we do then...endoscopy and colonoscopy?

Maybe something like a little common sense "profiling" would go a long way towards mitigating the risk. y'all think?

I think they'd pass on my 64 year old Swedish American wife.

Marv said...

I usually agree with your viewpoint Betsy, but (and you knew it was coming) this time not so much. The big problem is that we're always fighting the last battle. That's why, amongst all the other traveling indignities, we take our shoes off. As soon as we broadly implemented the Reid Shoe inspection, the jihadis moved on. As soon as we spend millions on full body scanners, the jihadis will move on. There will always be a weakness to be exploited.
The answer does not lie in comprehensively screening everyone. That is and will always be practically impossible with millions of passengers. The answer, Betsy, is in selectively screening high risk passengers and then comprehensively screening them. Sadly, this requires excellent police work including intelligence and profiling. Both are not going to fly (pardon the pun) in the current political environment where the left prevents the agencies from acquiring data and communicating effectively and prevents the TSA from screening effectively.
There will be many more dead innocents before the legislating elite is forced to relent by the outraged electorate.

Skay said...

As long as we have THIS President and THIS Democrat Congress in power
we will not have any measure of safety. It is as simple as that.

They are giving terrorists constitutional rights and bringing them to our shores. Holder's former law firm is representing many of them. It is not about our safety.

Pat Patterson said...

I heard that Congress realized another cost saving idea by having all the people who are getting body scans to have a breast exam and told to turn their head and cough. Which ever is aplicable.

Because of the non-discrimination laws the screeners doing the exams will be chosen without regard to gender or what ever gender they want to be.

Phil said...

I don't think the issue is so much one of privacy as it is one of modesty. Hardly a reason for people to be killed over. Scan away!!!

bobdog said...

The TSA could require passengers to wear open-back hospital gowns and remove airplane toilet doors, and it wouldn't help.

We'll see our first kiester bomb within 6 months.

Airline security is a reflection of the attitudes of people at the top. As long as Homeland Security is in the hands of the left, the Police Action Over Manmade Disasters will continue to be an exercise in government-sponsored public relations.

On the other hand, all those scanners are a good excuse to save or create billions of shovel-ready dollars around.

The solution to this problem begins with a serious attitude. I suggest a serious consult with the Israelis. If they're still talking to us.

tfhr said...


The "kiester bomb" has already been done.

It works something like this:

"Zip...Allah Akhbar...BOOM!"

tfhr said...

Too bad if it is inconvenient to get access to an airline seat; too bad if some demographics must experience greater difficulty before boarding an aircraft or gaining employment near airports; this is war.

NOBODY should be allowed aboard an aircraft or entry to an airport without 100% positive identification. Same said for entry into the United States by foreign nationals and that must start at points of embarkation. Will this be expensive? Yes, but if you want the privilege to visit the United States then you must be prepared to pay the cost.

Biometrics are a good first step and can be incorporated into the identification process. The current state of terrorist related databases is such that they are largely useless thanks both to deliberate efforts to obfuscate and cultural based inconsistency in naming conventions. Asking the world's intelligence and law enforcement agencies to cooperate by sharing information is pointless if even the most basic information lacks consistency or validity.

Don't waste time naming the person. Name the finger print and scan it at the point of entry. The capability already exists around the world and can be put in place as soon as the United States takes the lead in demanding such a measure.