Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why You Should "Opt Out"

Just Say No!

Update: 1-18-2013
The TSA today admitted that its inability to fix privacy issues in Rapiscan Scanners has resulted in the decision to remove all of them from the 30 airports where they are still in use by June 2013.

This colossal waste of taxpayer money falls directly at the feet of Michael Chertoff (who, as you will read, went on the become a lobbyist for Rapiscan after leaving Homeland Safety) 

So lets start at the beginning. 

Just before his departure as TSA chief Michael Chertoff pushed hard for the purchase of backscatter whole body scanners in American airports.

These are the devices that work like Superman's x-ray eyes. There are two types: an x-ray device made by Rapiscan and a millimeter wave device made by L3.

I currently have no gripe with the L3's other than their cost. 

In the Rapiscan you walk between two big pylons and get x-rayed. In the L3 you walk into a clear glass cylinder and get scanned with waves.

These devices are essentially designed to be electronic stripper poles. They produce imagery that leaves NOTHING to the imagination. The marketing material for these devices states that these devices may be "optionally" used where faces or "key parts of the body" are blurred. That is why their images may never be viewed in public.

Before their implementation if you needed supplemental screening you got a reasonable pat down. Once these devices came on-line, the TSA started administering such punishingly aggressive pat downs that it resulted in the famous "Don't Touch My Junk" You Tube.

The result? TSA backed off fully implementing their new $180,000 toys.

Then little by little TSA started easing them back on line. They had too, they'd spent a king's ransom on them. TSA gently got more and more pushy, eventually resulting in almost everyone getting hustled through them. 

The whole need for them mystified me. No other major country is using them. In Europe I asked why the EU isn't using them. The answer? "They cost a fortune, have not undergone any biological testing and may well pose potential health risks." So before using them on me they were never even tested on a rat?

Slowly, I noticed that flight attendants, airport employees and pilots were all being waived around them. Later I noted that expectant mothers and small kids were also being waived around them. This seems kinda stupid since many well publicized problems have originated by unstable airline employees.

This brings us back to our hero - Mr. Chertoff.

After leaving TSA what did he do? He founded The Chertoff Group, a major DC lobbying firm, representing, drum roll please, Rapiscan!

A good gig since whole body scanner mfr's have more than doubled their lobbying budgets of late. For a bit more on that read this Huffington Post article.

Then most recently came the revelation that Rapiscan may have falsified reports regarding its software.  Click to see Wired magazine's recent feature on that.

So lets summarize:
1. These devices came into being under questionable circumstances.
2. These devices have never identified a terrorist.
3. These devices are illegal in the rest of the world.
4. These devices have never undergone biological testing. 
5. These devices invade of your modesty and privacy.
6. These devices slow down airport screening.
8. These devices cost a fortune.

For all these reasons......

I'll continue to allow a little more time at screening and I'll continue to opt out.

Gosh I'm getting cranky in my old age....

Roadboy's Travels © 2012


IniquitousFish said...

I would follow up by adding how, if you fly frequently and repeatedly opt out, the local TSAs will begin to recognize you and just gave up trying to push you thru the scanners at all.

IniquitousFish said...

"Give up"
I meant "give up."