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Making Airport Scanners Less Objectionable

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the still-the-little-matter-of-x-rays dept.

Security 681

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that one of the researchers who helped develop the software for the scanners says there is a simple fix that would make scanning less objectionable. The fix would distort the images captured on full-body scanners so they look like reflections in a fun-house mirror, but any potentially dangerous objects would be clearly revealed, says Willard 'Bill' Wattenburg, a former nuclear weapons designer at the Livermore lab. 'Why not just distort the image into something grotesque so that there isn't anything titillating or exciting about it?' asks Wattenburg, adding that the modification is so simple that 'a 6-year-old could do the same thing with Photoshop... It's probably a few weeks' modification of the program.' Wattenburg said he was rebuffed when he offered the concept to Department of Homeland Security officials four years ago. A TSA official said the agency is working on development of scanner technology that would reduce the image to a 'generic icon, a generic stick figure' that would still reveal potentially dangerous items." Reader FleaPlus points out an unintended consequence: some transportation economists believe that the TSA's new invasive techniques may lead to more deaths as more people use road transportation to avoid flying — much more dangerous by the mile than air travel.

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681 comments

Rule 34? (5, Funny)

Hatman39 (1759474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305140)

Anyone care to google: Funhouse mirror p0rn? Because I sense rule 34...

Re:Rule 34? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305206)

I don't know but you can fuck right off back to 4chan and take your immaturity with you.

Re:Rule 34? (4, Informative)

nloop (665733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305288)

Sorry, but there is an xkcd about rule 34. He is officially legit on this one.

http://xkcd.com/305/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Rule 34? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305502)

best xkcd ever!

Re:Rule 34? (5, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305372)

apparently they forgot that all they have to do to make these scanners less objectionable is to get rid of them.

Re:Rule 34? (4, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305420)

But if they don't inconvenience people enough, they won't feel properly protected. An airline suicide hijacking is something that gets on TV, so people will be far more afraid of that than they would be of a more realistic danger.

Re:Rule 34? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305478)

centman hehman thatman ughman

Corners of opportunity.

Great...now just one more issue.... (4, Insightful)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305150)

Ok, so now figure out how to make that image without exposing me to extra radiation.

Honestly, this whole thing is a joke and just shows how becoming too PC is a weakness. If we would just profile we wouldn't need half the security we have.

Re:Great...now just one more issue.... (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305238)

Yep profiling seems to work for the Israelis. Or eliminate the search completely (other than the standard Xraying of suitcases). Your American odds of dying in an airplane bombing are 1 in 500,000. That is about the same as your risk of drowning in a tsunami or getting hit by a meteorite. I think I'd rather take that vanishingly-small risk, rather than take the 1-to-1 risk that some TSA officer will be playing with my ___, touching my wife's ___s, and/or fondling my kid's ___.

If you really want to be afraid, fear your car. Odds of dying in a car is 1 in 100.

Re:Great...now just one more issue.... (0)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305314)

My wife and I were talking about this yesterday. We would rather be one of the many thousands of people a screener sees "naked" instead of one of the people being publicly fondled.

Re:Great...now just one more issue.... (3, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305510)

I used to think the same, until I found-out that scientists are warning these machines can cause skin cancer. See my message further below.

Re:Great...now just one more issue.... (5, Insightful)

leonardluen (211265) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305244)

the last line of the summary says it all

may lead to more deaths as more people to use road transportation to avoid flying — much more dangerous by the mile than air travel.

if it is true, and flying is already safer than road travel, then why do we need all the security?

Re:Great...now just one more issue.... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305348)

On a per TRIP basis, cars, trains, and buses are all safer than airplanes.

That's because takeoff and landing in a plane is FAR more dangerous than "takeoff" and "landing" in the other modes of travel. That raises the per trip fatality rate higher for planes.

Re:Great...now just one more issue.... (4, Insightful)

leonardluen (211265) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305418)

On a per TRIP basis, cars, trains, and buses are all safer than airplanes.

That's because takeoff and landing in a plane is FAR more dangerous than "takeoff" and "landing" in the other modes of travel. That raises the per trip fatality rate higher for planes.

but that type of incident isn't going to be stopped by the govt fondling people.

Re:Great...now just one more issue.... (2, Informative)

wwfarch (1451799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305586)

Of the transportation modes you listed the only one really suitable for long trips is trains. That could be another part of the explanation, people don't usually use cars and buses for very long trips which should be more likely to have accidents occur purely by virtue of them being longer.

If I remember correctly on the basis of time spent traveling, planes and cars have a similar death rate. So you're just as likely to die from one hour in a plane as you are from one hour in a car. For planes the takeoff and landing are especially dangerous, for a car the entire trip is roughly the same amount of danger (assuming road conditions, etc... are equal)

Re:Great...now just one more issue.... (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305380)

if it is true, and flying is already safer than road travel, then why do we need all the security?

1) The elite prefer, at this time, to control the masses by fear. Americans are carefully social engineered to be cowards, and the elite like it that way. Otherwise, all the lives ruined by the elites might want to take a few with em on the way out. So, keep them scared.

2) Do you have any idea how much freaking money that "security theater" costs? Lots of campaign contributions later, it turns out we have a need.

Re:Great...now just one more issue.... (3, Interesting)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305442)

if it is true, and flying is already safer than road travel, then why do we need all the security?

Because folks have an irrational fear of flying. I mean, do you really need a live demonstration by a flight attendant on how to place the clip into the buckle? These procedures were written back in the day when Buddy Holly was a passenger.

Re:Great...now just one more issue.... (5, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305278)

This would still not make it any less objectionable from my perspective. As long as the distortion is occurring in software, it isn't acceptable. As long as the non-distorted data exists for even a microsecond on some hard drive somewhere, the data can be:

  • stored for later examination without the distortion applied
  • sent somewhere else for later examination without the distortion applied
  • copied by someone who hacked into the computers

And that's assuming that they don't just tell us that they're applying this distortion while not really doing so. Given the number of lies the TSA has told about these things so far, I don't trust these people as far as I can throw them.

Only one thing will make these less objectionable: not using them. If you're going to blur the heck out of the image anyway, why not replace those $170,000 machines with $4,000 infrared-based thermal imaging cameras and be done with it? They're 1/42nd the cost, and they do the blurring in hardware due to the nature of the energy emissions being detected. They're also much faster than the TSA's expensive toys---you could walk through like you do a metal detector instead of having to wait for a scan---and they're passive, so there's no exposure to dangerous ionizing radiation (and before you say that this is a small amount of radiation, I'll point out that no amount of ionizing radiation is safe [nirs.org] according to BEIR VII from the National Academies of Science).

No, these unholy abominations have to go. They're a fundamental invasion of our privacy, and a perfect example of wasteful government spending.

Re:Great...now just one more issue.... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305394)

If you're going to blur the heck out of the image anyway, why not replace those $170,000 machines with $4,000 infrared-based thermal imaging cameras and be done with it? They're 1/42nd the cost, and they do the blurring in hardware due to the nature of the energy emissions being detected.

Yeah, I wonder. Hmm. 1/42 the profit, 1/42 the campaign contributions... I wonder why...

Porno is not the only concern (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305164)

They'd still cause cancer deaths at a rate exceeding the terrorist threat.

TSA won't use it. (4, Informative)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305172)

As we can see here [npr.org] , the TSA doesn't like even blurry crotches. All that stuff we heard about "blurring the private areas" was a lie by the TSA and John Pistole because here we have someone who had to get patted down anyway because of a blurred crotch.

It's about profiling, not screening (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305182)

If you have less muslims flying because sexual assault at airports, it's going to make screening easier and more effective.

Re:It's about profiling, not screening (1, Troll)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305536)

If you have less muslims flying because sexual assault at airports, it's going to make screening easier and more effective.

I'd rather have a "must eat bacon" requirement.

Doesn't fix the Radiation problem (5, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305186)

"A group of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) raised concerns about the 'potential serious health risks' from the scanners in a letter sent to the White House Office of Science and Technology in April... 'While the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volume of the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high,' they wrote."

Continued - http://www.prisonplanet.com/naked-body-scanners-may-be-dangerous-scientists.html [prisonplanet.com]

Updated - http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-naked-scanners-airports-dangerous-scientists.html [physorg.com]

undo. (4, Interesting)

DjReagan (143826) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305188)

If a 6 year old could do it in Photoshop, then the same 6 year old probably could undo it too. Just run the distortion with opposite paramaters (shrink where you stretched, and stretch where you shrank) and you end up with the original image again.

I seem to recall a few years ago, a police agency cracking a child pr0n case by undoing a distortion made on the perpetrator's face in the images.

Patented (5, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305594)

Yes, so easy a "6-year old could do the same thing", and yet:

"The Livermore laboratory sent off a final application to the U.S. Patent Office on Nov. 23, 2006"

That provides insight to the absurdity of the patent process. Take something obvious, simple, and widely used, then say "Look! This is a brand new technique, just because no one has applied these algorithms to these sorts of images before."

Give me a break.

Oh sure.... (5, Funny)

dskoll (99328) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305192)

Then the TSA will be swamped with job applications from fetishists who like funhouse-distorted body images...

"Will you look at the size of her feet!!"

Re:Oh sure.... (3, Interesting)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305232)

the tsa is already being swamped by pedophiles and sex offenders asking for applications.

Re:Oh sure.... (1, Troll)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305428)

In unrelated news, the Catholic Church reports a sudden lack of priestly applicants.

Deadlier than the terrorists (5, Interesting)

ei4anb (625481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305198)

"... assuming that the radiation in a backscatter X-ray is about a hundredth the dose of a dental X-ray, we find that a backscatter X-ray increases the odds of dying from cancer by about 16 ten millionths of one percent. That suggests that for every billion passengers screened with backscatter radiation, about 16 will die from cancer as a result." "Given that there will be 600 million airplane passengers per year, that makes the machines deadlier than the terrorists." http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/11/tsa_backscatter.html [schneier.com]

Re:Deadlier than the terrorists (3, Informative)

jestill (656510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305260)

I would think that the cosmic radiation dose you get on the airplane is much more deadly than even that.

Re:Deadlier than the terrorists (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305298)

And the amount of people who will die in car accidents to and from the airports will be higher than that, but that is besides the point. I haven't verified the math, but it would be interesting if true that statistically more people would be hurt/killed from the scanners than from "terrorist" events themselves.

Re:Deadlier than the terrorists (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305320)

Which means that the health risks are jacked up that much higher, for the flight crew, and for other people who fly regularly as part of their jobs.

Re:Deadlier than the terrorists (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305338)

I would think that the cosmic radiation dose you get on the airplane is much more deadly than even that.

Matters not. Radiation exposure risk is cumulative over your life. If this kills more people than the terrorists, it really doesn't matter if something else unrelated also kills more people than the terrorists; there are still the same number of additional deaths directly attributable to these machines and only these machines.

Re:Deadlier than the terrorists (5, Insightful)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305396)

Cosmic radiation is imposed on you by the universe, not by the government. There is a difference in principle.

Same thing with analogies to medical xrays...people assume the risk of a chest X-ray because they have some medical problem and they voluntarily decide that undergoing a small amount of radiation is worth the information they will learn from the imaging. Any comparisons between the amount of radiation received from a medical x-ray and the amount of radiation imposed upon one by the federal government as a condition of using modern transportation is a gross category error. I don't care if these machines are the equivalent of 1 billionth of a chest Xray. The government should not be forcing me to be subjected to 1 billionth of a chest Xray. The government is not free to decide how much radiation I shall be exposed to. Or rather, it shouldn't be.

Re:Deadlier than the terrorists (4, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305406)

But it all adds up - a little there, a little here, and if you're going for medical treatment, etc....

Of course, we're assuming that the numbers given by Rapiscan are in fact true - they didn't use cigarette company scientists to do their numbers.

No, I don't believe the FDA when they say that the scanners are "safe". I firmly believe they took Rapiscan's numbers at face value or adjusted their recommendations to be favorable to to Rapiscan - like they did for the Tuna industry and mercury intake. The FDA is beholden to industry.

Re:Deadlier than the terrorists (3, Informative)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305518)

According to the EPA [epa.gov] :

For a typical cross-country flight in a commercial airplane, you are likely to receive 2 to 5 millirem (mrem) of radiation, less than half the radiation dose you receive from a chest x-ray.

So you may be right about that. However, the observation posted by commodore64_love above about the concentration of the scanner dose in the skin does alter the picture a little.

Re:Deadlier than the terrorists (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305528)

You get about one mrem per kilomile when flying. Emphasis on the word "about".

The problem with using "a dental xray" as a measuring stick, is depending on the technology level used, it varies by about one order of magnitude. Then there's another order of magnitude of B.S applied depending on which side you're propagandizing for, such as "do you mean per full dental set (and what is a full dental set anyway, it depends on insurance company, country of residence, and dentist preference) or do you mean per individual snapshot?). But as a total BS estimate over a large 1st world population you'll get about ten mrem per dental xray (although individual experience will vary by a factor of about 5)

The mystifying part is my teeth are thinner than, say, my wallet or my belt buckle. Yet the nudie body scanner claims to use a hundredth the dose to hit an entire body. On the other hand a diagnostic dental xray is probably higher res needing higher intensity. On the other hand the efficiency of the flux (forget the name) is probably way the heck higher for a dental xray than a nudie scanner.

I'm thinking just from a purely engineering standpoint, aside from all political statistical BS where both sides are lying to control peoples opinons, that they're about the same dose within an order of magnitude.

Re:Deadlier than the terrorists (3, Interesting)

moggie_xev (695282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305366)

One comment was that because all the radiation is "reflected" off the skin then the effective does at the skin is much higher than that of a normal X-ray which is distributed across the body.

Re:Deadlier than the terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305404)

You are assuming that cancer has a 100% mortality rate.

A long losing battle (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305200)

The only real question now is, what goofy item will be used as a mailbomb next that gets forbidden for air travel next month? Purses? Dentures? Artificial limbs? Anything is possible and nothing is too ridiculous for the TSA to think as a serious threat!

Re:A long losing battle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305268)

A stick grenade?

Re:A long losing battle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305526)

Pfft. Hand grenade. What other kinds are there?

Knowing the TSA, they'll just banned people with hands from flying.

Re:A long losing battle (5, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305438)

Keep in mind that a terrorist (sorry, "freedom fighter") used an ass-bomb in an unsuccessful attempt on the Saudi Arabia's counter-terrorism minister.

Backscatter won't detect it. Groping (short of a finger up your asshole) won't detect it. Nope, we can only be safe if you drop trou and pull a goatse or let the TSA watch you take a shit.

Re:A long losing battle (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305464)

Foam rubber shark fins. Definitely foam rubber shark fins. But only ones with lasers in them.

Re:A long losing battle (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305488)

Were I a terrorist, I'd be thinking... why bother with attacking a plane, when it's cheaper and easier to bomb a school? Just imagine the panic that one would create - a devoted suicide bomber running into the school hall, screaming that these children must die in the name of whatever cause he chooses, and that more will follow. Schools all over the country would be closed for weeks because so many parents would keep their children home.
But if I had to go for plane bombing, I'd do a bike. Their steel frame will help shield my explosive hidden inside from sniffer dogs and xrays.

Re:A long losing battle (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305574)

why bother with attacking a plane, when it's cheaper and easier to bomb a school?

Actually, there is an easier way to cause complete chaos and panic and it involves the airports. For obvious reasons, I won't go into it but it's a well known gaping hole in the "security" of the airports.

I mentioned it previously on here and right now, during the Thanksgiving travel period, would be the perfect time to implement this plan.

Flap over invasive (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305202)

I am embarrassed by people. Not because they're outraged about the scanners. But because it's over a little virtual nudity.

Worry about the incredible cost in hardware and training. Worry about some idiot cranking up the power, or a hardware flaw doing it for them. Worry about the infinite spiral of ineffective hoops in the security theater. Worry about what you're going to have to supper.

But, good grief, stop with the omg-naked and think-of-the-children crap.

Re:Flap over invasive (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305266)

Well, nudity is a problem for the uptight Christian crowd. Us around here? Naw, we're above all that. Didn't you know that?

Oh... wait!

Re:Flap over invasive (4, Insightful)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305376)

Try explaining to a preschooler how much "crap" is his fear of the two big stranger taking him away from visibly upset Mommy and Daddy and then touching him in ways that would get 15 years to life for anyone else who did it. Better yet, try explaining that to Mommy and Daddy.

Parenting Fail (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305506)

Any parent taking their kids through one of these things should be locked up. If it were anywhere else, they would be.

Re:Flap over invasive (2, Insightful)

joebagodonuts (561066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305400)

Agreed. The only way to make scanners "less objectionable" is to get rid of them entirely. I'm very much in the "security theatre" camp. Too much of this is for show, and ineffective.

Re:Flap over invasive (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305416)

Just because some of us have dignity doesn't mean you should lump us in with the likes of you.

The nudity looks pretty real to me (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305466)

Put it this way: I bet you can think of at least one person you'd like to get in the scanner for a few minutes....

Easy? (4, Funny)

falsified (638041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305204)

"'a 6-year-old could do the same thing with Photoshop... It's probably a few weeks' modification of the program.'"

There are six-year olds who can undertake a multi-week programming project?

I can't believe my parents were wasting my time making me read Dr. Seuss when I could have been doing this shit!

Quick Fix - Remove the Scanners (5, Interesting)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305212)

Seriously, since 9/11 we have gone from a "let the hijackers land where they want and don't fuss" mentality to a "kill the fucker" sport mentality. Hijackings, at least on US flights are a thing of the past. Sure, ok, finding an explosive is a good thing, but at what cost? The chances of being on a plane with a bomb are so tiny it isn't even worth worrying about.

Lets go back to metal detectors to get the obvious and maybe walk bomb sniffing dogs through often enough to deter would-be "terrorists". Oh, and scan checked luggage all you want, just stop stealing from it, ok?

Nude photos and fondling my (and everyone elses) man bits isn't making me feel safer, it's just making me want to fly less and make me loathe my government even more. I'm spending less and the government is spending more. What a great recipe.

A false argument (0)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305462)

WITH the security checks hijackings have become a thing of the past and finding a bom is a very small chance.

You are saying that because nobody has died since the town introduced a fire service, the fire service ain't needed anymore.

If you remove the security, do you really think terrorists wouldn't notice and exploit it again? Read up on history, once hijackings were extremely common UNTIL rigorous security measures put an end to them.

Proof? Hijackings still happen, just in countries without security.

Re:A false argument (3, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305550)

So, your argument boils down to: if we drop the theater and go back to metal detectors only, then 9/11 style hijackings in the US would be "common" again (mind you they only ever happened once on US soil, hence the date describing them)? Also mind you, they had no explosives, etc. Just box cutters.

Sorry, but no. Case in point, even with "enhanced" security we still had shoe and underpants bomber "terrorists" get through. Security hasn't gained us anything. Awareness of the fact that not all hijackings end up in safe landings has forced the public's hand in dealing with the threat in the air. We all but kill them now.

The attitude shift _alone_ will stop hijackings. Now random bombs in bags, ok, screen bags with dogs and sending them through scanners. Problem pretty much solved, or at least reduced to near zero, just as it was before.

Re:Quick Fix - Remove the Scanners (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305500)

Hijacking is essentially impossible now. The doors to the cockpit are reenforced and bolted. Unless the hijackers can sneak some explosive in to blow the hinges off, all they are getting is a load of passengers they can hold hostage.

Re:Quick Fix - Remove the Scanners (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305592)

And the interesting part is, I doubt the passengers will go for that. I'd bet the farm that the passengers would all but kill, if not kill, the assailant(s). The images of 9/11 won't fade easily and until they do no one will risk being slammed into a building.

Israel (3, Insightful)

MorpheousMarty (1094907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305218)

Airport scanners are a joke. Unless they can detect anything in and out of a person's body they can and will be bypassed when needed. So here's the plan, rather than creating a softcore security theater, we copy the security methods of countries that do it effectively. Namely, Israel.

Of course we could just keep doing crazier and crazier scans as people progressively game the system, only to fail because their devices are faulty, not because they really had any trouble getting on the plane.

Re:Israel (5, Insightful)

CityZen (464761) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305390)

The reason the US doesn't have a system like Isreal's is because they've taken a systematic look at the problem and have implemented a comprehensive, multilayered, efficient solution. In the US, we prefer one-step, silver-bullet type "fixes". Anything more complex would be argued out of existence.

Re:Israel (1)

protektor (63514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305458)

Oh so we don't want effective, efficient, useful and reasonable cost, but rather a huge production with lots of people on the payroll, lots of eye candy to make it look good, and lots of fancy equipment to buy from former government insiders. Ok got it. Thanks for clearing that up.

Re:Israel (4, Informative)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305460)

The reason the US doesn't have a system like Israel's is that most flights in the US are domestic.

Re:Israel (4, Insightful)

Xelios (822510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305454)

You mean being interrogated before boarding the plane?

Why don't we just go back to what we had before and just accept the fact that flying will never be 100% safe, but remains the safest form of transportation available? A hijacking will never be successful again, not after what happened the last time. People won't just sit there when somebody jumps up with a box cutter. Explosives will always be a threat, but realistically what's to keep a terrorist from walking into an airport with an explosive vest and detonating it in the security area? Will we install body scanners at all entrances and exits then? It's just ridiculous. Of all the ways to die in this world why are we making such a big deal out of this one?

At this point I don't believe it has anything to do with public safety, not really. I think terrorism is embarrassing to governments. A small group of people can't possibly be allowed to "beat" one of the greatest countries in the world with some home made explosives and box cutters. It's just plain embarrassing. So lets just keep ramping up security to show those miscreants who's in charge here, put them back in their place so they'll never make fools of us again.

Wow. Just wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305222)

Reader FleaPlus points out an unintended consequence: some transportation economists believe that the TSA's new invasive techniques may lead to more deaths as more people to use road transportation to avoid flying -- much more dangerous by the mile than air travel.

So KDawson is essentially starting to put blame on the TSA for any increase in road deaths before the fact? Come on now. This is just out of hand. Forget who the reader is, KDawson is the one putting it on the front page.

I hereby proclaim that KDawson is the reason for slow Linux adoption since Slashdot was once one of the great Linux advocacy sites until KDawson did more than his fair share to turn Slashdot into a politics site.

It's time for KDawson to find a new job with Faux news.

Re:Wow. Just wow. (2, Funny)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305336)

Reader FleaPlus points out an unintended consequence: some transportation economists believe that the TSA's new invasive techniques may lead to more deaths as more people to use road transportation to avoid flying -- much more dangerous by the mile than air travel.
That's ok think about all the carbon dioxide that won't be released into the atmosphere, the little polars won't drown and the low lands won't flood. Why do you hate polar bears?

America is suppose to be a free country (4, Informative)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305226)

there is absolutely no need for prison security in the airport for regular people just trying to travel. It is a just a big scam by Michael Chertoff and Rapiscan Systems to sell naked scanners to the tsa for billions in profits. I bet if they were not allowed to make any money they would no longer be pushing their use.

Re:America is suppose to be a free country (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305590)

Being able to sell expensive and dangerous stuff for billions of profits - without government caring about whether they'll kill you or embarass you - is one of the results of a 'free market'.

Nobody seems to have realised that if I'm in a crowded airport with a few million people, I can just explode a bomb before the security checkpoint. Or I could blow up a subway. This paranoid security is going around it in the wrong way.

This is kinda reminding me of the whole DRM arguments - You piss off normal people who had no intention of doing anything illegal, yet people who really want to get around it can.

Stick Figures? (3, Informative)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305242)

First of all, the presentation of that article on WashingtonPost.com was 4 pages of absolute horror.
Second, I heard this stick figure display was already being done in Europe, but it still doesn't make me feel safer or less worried about anything.

Why distort the image? (4, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305250)

I mean, these are average Americans we're talking about. Most of my countrymen and women are already distorted into something grotesque so that there isn't anything exciting or titillating about them. But seriously, though... if there were mass boycotts of the airlines for even a couple of days in protest over the scanners, I bet we'd see them removed right quick. Economics trump national security, after all. Plus, apparently economics are a national security issue in this post-cold war, post-columbine, post-9/11 world.

Irrelevant to the health issues... (2, Informative)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305254)

It would also be "less objectionable" if we were not exposed to significant dose of ionizing radiation.

http://www.npr.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.pdf [npr.org]

Re:Irrelevant to the health issues... (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305318)

It would also be "less objectionable" if we were not exposed to significant dose of ionizing radiation.
You do realize what happens when you fly in a plane at altitude, and lose that wonderful blanket of atmosphere that keeps the nasty cosmic rays from hitting the ground right?

Re:Irrelevant to the health issues... (1)

protektor (63514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305480)

Oh you mean the ozone that protects everyone on earth suddenly disappears when we fly? Wow I didn't know that. I'll have to keep that in mind for the next time I fly.

Re:Irrelevant to the health issues... (1)

tigre (178245) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305486)

RTFL. The letter indicates that cosmic rays are more likely to be distributed throughout the body due to higher energy, whereas the lower energy X-rays used for back-scattering will likely have concentrated impact on the skin.

Re:Irrelevant to the health issues... (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305540)

All the more reason to limit the amount you pick up from the airport, aye?

Re:Irrelevant to the health issues... (1)

gnud (934243) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305604)

You do realize that the authors of the letter of concern mention that, and point out that while the effects of this radiation is fairly well understood, the backscatter x-ray is not, because it only affects the skin, not the whole body.

The problem is the screening (1)

devent (1627873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305258)

The problem is the screening, not what pictures are taken. The screening is unnecessary, an annoyance and an invade of privacy. Even if all pictures are distorted, blurred or are just icons, the screener scans me naked. And that for a 1 in a million chance that a terrorist could possible hide a bomb between his legs? More people die because of a lighting bolts.

Child Pornography (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305270)

Just lock the TSA up for violating child pornography laws.

This misses the point (4, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305272)

This misses the point. First (and least important), if you can distort the images, you can undistort them.

More importantly: people finally seem to be waking up to this simple fact: The government has no right to search you unless it has probable cause and a warrant. TSA, in fact, does not even have the right to demand an id. The right to interstate travel without government interference has been upheld by the courts: flying is a right, not a privilege. Nude scanners (even if distorted) and genital gropes violate your fourth amendment rights. Trying to make this violation more palatable is the wrong approach.

The right approach is to eliminate the TSA (and all of its regulations) and let the airlines and airports be responsible for their own security. As private companies, they have an interest in finding ways to guarantee security without humiliating their customers.

Fourth amendment, folks, use it or lose it.

Re:This misses the point (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305360)

Exactly. Even if there were a safety exemption to the 4th amendment, this would not qualify. Air travel is the safest form of travel, even counting deaths due to terrorism.

Re:This misses the point (3, Insightful)

protektor (63514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305422)

Here is an article about how the TSA does *NOT* have the right to ask you for ID. Even their own in house legislative guy says this. There is a copy of the letter he sent out on TSA letter head stating that.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13739_3-9769089-46.html [cnet.com]
http://files.dubfire.net/warner-tsa.pdf [dubfire.net]

Should make for some interesting fun at the airport if everyone starts doing this. LOL

Total recall? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305300)

A TSA official said the agency is working on development of scanner technology that would reduce the image to a 'generic icon, a generic stick figure' that would still reveal potentially dangerous items."

The government really needs to stop getting ideas from bad 80's action flicks.

wrong issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305304)

The problem is, the naked body scanners are a JOKE. They are not effective. Hardly any of the TSA's draconian tactics are, that is the real problem, and is what should face objection.

Do I Trust It? (4, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305316)

Do I trust the scanner to:
- Actually mangle the image?
- Not save a "raw" image internally or transmitted someplace?
- Actually be mangled as described in front of out-of-sight invisible surveillance agent?

No, I don't. They've already been caught lying on all these issues, actually.

Wrong problem (5, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305322)

The problem is not that anybody will see the naked images, the problem is not even that these scanners are probably worse for your health than the terrorists, the problem is even not that somebody is touching 'your junk' and the problem is even not that none of these procedures are making anything any safer (they are not.)

The problem is that you are a human being, and if you allow yourself to be treated like cattle, they will.

The problem is that those Freedoms and Liberties are eroding and you are allowing them to take the Freedoms and Liberties away.

People died and killed others for this kind of stuff because it matters. You only have one life, do you want to be cattle or a human?

Re:Wrong problem (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305524)

There's also this thing called the fourth amendment. Something about having the right not to be searched without probable cause.

Re:Wrong problem (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305560)

amendments shouldn't even exist, they are a cause of a major misunderstanding of the vast majority of people, making them think that the only rights they have are the ones that are counted in the amendments.

It was a bad idea then, it's a horrific problem now. You have all the rights and gov't has the ones listed, that's how it should be.

Flying vs Driving (2, Interesting)

kcitren (72383) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305332)

While it's most likely true that more people are driving vs flying for the holidays, I don't think the TSA is the reason. It's often cheaper to drive and, for flights under 2 to 2 1/2 hours, the time is basically the same [including drive time to airport, luggage pickup, and, yes, security screening]. I'm extremely doubtful that the airlines are losing business due to the TSA [not that they're not losing business because of other reasons: bad service, increased costs (i.e. luggage fees), decreased routes]. I seriously question anyone who says they're not flying because of the TSA's new scanners and pat downs. Most likely, they wouldn't be flying for other reasons. This is not to say there are not potential health concerns with the new full-body imagers, those do have to be addressed, especially to pilots and flight attendants.

Italy is dumping scanners (5, Interesting)

protektor (63514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305340)

Italy has decided to dump the full body scanners because they are slow and ineffective.

http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/international/italy-to-abandon-airport-body-scanner-project [myfoxny.com]
http://www.smh.com.au/travel/travel-news/italy-to-abandon-airport-body-scanners-20100924-15pgu.html [smh.com.au]
http://www.euronews.net/2010/09/23/italian-airport-security-axing-body-scanners/ [euronews.net]

Seems to me that ought be a clear signal that they are just security theater.

Missing the point (1)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305388)

This article is missing the point. The naked pictures on the airport scanners are just a portion of the problem. There is also the issue of the amount of radiation that the skin is exposed in these machines is dangerous. And then the issue of why members of congress and other politicians get to skip the machines and the groping. The whole thing is so wrong at so many levels.

subjects for replies are stupid. (1)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305402)

This solution from the producer is just him making sure that his product is still the solution.

We the people don't want the solution, and whoever he bribed to make this decision should be fired.

Enough is enough.. Everyone should just stop flying altogether as there are no alternative way of flying without this invasive crap. If there was an airport A where this happened and airport B where things were normal, no one would go to airport A.. but this is happening at EVERY SINGLE AIRPORT.

911 happened because people were used to allowing the "terrorist" to take the airplane wherever they wanted, becayse they'd stay safe, now if this happened, everyone would kill the terrorist because otherwise the terrorist might kill them all.

Why do stupid people always get to make stupid choices that affects billions of travelers every year?

Hate this crap..

No difference! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34305440)

For evidenciary purposes, surely an unaltered representation needs to be kept since synthetic images aren't going to be the same. "Your honour, that splot on the left thigh smudge..."

So now it's not that the girl notices a bunch of male TSAs snickering, it's that same guy running the machine taking his unfettered happy snaps back home.

I know... (1)

Xiver (13712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305448)

I know a great way to make them less objectionable in the U.S. Don't use them to violate my 4th amendment rights.

Contradiction of trust (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305472)

If you really think another bomb will be hidden in someone's jock and you don't trust the security personnel then don't fly. You're welcome to use other means of transportation, like trains, buses, boats, and cars, all of which are statistically less safe.

Better yet, get over yourself, your body really isn't 'titllating" enough for a TSA officer to lose their job over. They have access to pr0n too.

How long until... (1)

Xiver (13712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305474)

How long until terrorists start detonating bombs in the long waiting lines at the airport? Maybe everyone that wants to fly should first agree to have their home searched before they can buy a ticket.

Only one way to make then less objectionable (2, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305512)

I want hot women TSA agents. Not only would that make it NOT be a problem, it would make it a BONUS.

Oh and to be fair, ripped guys for the ladies. Just recruit a bunch of Jersey guidos and throw some (more) oil on them.

new idea (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34305554)

how much would it cost to simply put well trained police on the planes? a couple of people, trained in hand to hand combat, and good with knives and stuff.

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