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Body Scanners for the London Underground

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the require-nakedness-instead dept.

Privacy 761

Ronald Dumsfeld writes "In a report in the TimesOnline, it is alleged that those lovely see-through-your-clothes scanners are to be installed in London's Tube stations. Part of the UK's Military-industrial complex, QinetiQ stands to make £150,000 to £2 million per station ($260,000 - $3.4 million) with their Millimetre Wave Imagers."

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woot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025457)

At these levels, clothing and other materials appear transparent therefore providing the scanner operator with a highly accurate and real-time image of the now uncovered subject.

WOOT! Hot nekkid ch1cks!1.

Re:woot (3, Informative)

noidentity (188756) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025479)

WOOT! Hot nekkid ch1cks!1.

Not if you're sober [freedomisslavery.info] .

Re:woot (0, Redundant)

turgid (580780) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025517)

WOOT! Hot nekkid ch1cks!1.

You can already see those for free as in beer on the Intarweb.

What you can't do, in either case, is touch.

So please explain how this is progress?

Re:woot (2, Funny)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025528)

What you can't do, in either case, is touch.

On the Underground? At the right time of day you'll be worrying more about the risk of being crushed by the bodies around you than thinking about who's touching whom.

Re:woot (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025609)

On the Underground? At the right time of day you'll be worrying more about the risk of being crushed by the bodies around you than thinking about who's touching whom.

Being squased like sardines in amongst a bunch of smelly people doesn't count.

How can that possibly compare to a consenting handful of naked female breast? My original question still stands.

The perception of security (5, Insightful)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025460)

Well, some will say you can't put a price on a human life. Of course, that's in the abstract. Our courts do it regularly in wrongful death lawsuits. I also seem to recall someone doing an invoice for the carbon, water, and other compounds our bodies contain if we were to buy them at a chemistry supply house, but I dcouldn't find it on Google.

Essentially it boils down to this. However you believe a government should spend tax dollars, they're going to get spent in two ways: to benefit campaign supporters and cronies, and to do things that mollify the public just enough to make the re-election fight a little easier. A terrorist incident makes people feel less safe, so politicians spend money on things that make them feel safer. Good, bad, effective, useless... doesn't matter. It just has to be perceived as responsive.

Expensive scanners in tube stations? Brilliant!

Security costs money. Of course, the money gets spent on expensive and showy equipment, not on better training of security personnel (or screening of security personnel - some TSA screeners look like they should have their mittens safety-pinned to their coats). But it's all bread and circuses. It's about the perception of security. And governments are great at spending money to create that.

- Greg

Re:The perception of security (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025470)

The problem with your theory is that, by and large, Londoners aren't drooling imbeciles. There are exceptions, sure, but the number of people who are going to feel safer as a result of scannners in tube stations is negligible.

Re:The perception of security (2, Insightful)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025510)

The problem with your theory is that, by and large, Londoners aren't drooling imbeciles. There are exceptions, sure, but the number of people who are going to feel safer as a result of scannners in tube stations is negligible.

Yeah, but who's going to bomb a rail platform in Bristol?

The MP's put the showy equipment in showy places so it gets coverage on the BBC nationwide. They provide the illusion of action that filters out through TV screens across the nation, and a downmarket housefrau in Middlesex feels good that the government is doing something.

- Greg

Re:The perception of security (2, Insightful)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025567)

Disagree. What they're doing is creating a target.

Nobody who's thought about it, in Government or out of it, thinks that the tube can be secured. Making high profile security measures just makes a tempting target for terrorists. The more secured it was claimed to be, the more publicity the attacks bring.

Of course, that helps the governments message of how scared we should all be, so they're happy.

Re:The perception of security (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025531)

...someone doing an invoice for the carbon, water, and other compounds our bodies contain if we were to buy them at a chemistry supply house...

I hope they factored in the cost of assembly. People are always forgetting little additional expenses like that.

Re:The perception of security (3, Insightful)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025552)

Security costs money. Of course, the money gets spent on expensive and showy equipment, not on better training of security personnel

While I take your point on the perception of security in the purchase, you're asking a lot of security staff to detect something deliberatly being hidden with as much accuracy as this technology suppossedly will.

Getting on public transport shouldn't require an interview, lie detector, and strip search before boarding, but it is a common terrorism target and should be protected with the highest security practical.

__
Free funny pics and videos [laughdaily.com]

some thoughts (1, Informative)

silver apple (898643) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025585)

Sorry if this is too much of a tangent, but: If youve ever used the underground extensively youll be aware that a) Its a nightmare getting in/out at many stations at peak hours. b) On off-peak hours gates are often unmanned/broken meaning you can just walk right on. c) Many stations have gates that you can just jump over to enter/exit. d) Once in the underground system you can transfer between lines without going through any gates.

All the above means that any form of scanning system would be so easy to circumvent as to be entirely useless....unless they were to more than TRIPLE the manpower at non-central stations...and trust me that NO-ONE will be happy at seeing these costs passed onto them via ticket price increases.

Technology can only go so far. It seems that most of us Londoners have forgotten the lessons we learnt from the IRA. Ten years ago, you would never, ever let an unattended bag go ignored, and you would never leave bags unattended. Until three days ago, you saw both happening all the time. We need to remind people how easy it is to beat terrorism if everyone works together. I would also like to add a personal view on this, which is; these guys are pathetic. We have grown up with the IRA, and there is nothing special about these. Why the fuss?

Re:The perception of security (0)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025592)

One way of putting a price on human life is to look at it this way.

If the money that was to be spent on these scanners with questionable benefit in terms of improved safety was instead spent on feeding starving children, or better health care; how many more lives would be saved.

Re:The perception of security (2, Funny)

anagama (611277) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025644)


If the money .. was instead spent on feeding starving children ...

You could always just eat them.

Re:The perception of security (3, Insightful)

BackInIraq (862952) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025662)

But it's all bread and circuses. It's about the perception of security. And governments are great at spending money to create that.

No joke. Excellent example...I recently had the singular joy of going through a US airport. I was forced to take off my boots (I say forced because I initially chose not to, and was still singled out for additional search even though I didn't set off the metal detector), and had my luggage randomly selected for additional search.

Oh, I must have forgotten to mention that I was a soldier returning to Iraq, in uniform, with government-purchased tickets and a valid military ID. Definitely a high-threat passenger.

If I wanted to kill some Americans, I could make it happen much more easily. I have access to a weapon, ammunition, and with a little planning even explosives every single day over here.

Are we more safe because they spent longer searching me than nearly everybody else on the plane? I'm gonna go with a no. Are we safer when the US government spends more per capita on security in Wyoming than New York City? Not really.

It's really just a giant game of whack-a-mole anyway. Make planes safer, they hit subways. Make subways safer, it'll be busses. After that shopping malls, then city streets. Then when random sidewalk bombs and carbombs force the government to stretch themselves so thin that they can barely cover every possible terrorist attack...they'll go back to planes, because lack of funding will have compromised security there.

One of the most effective terrorist attacks ever (not THE most, mind you) was probably the DC sniper...not in lives lost, of course, but in actual disruption to people's daily lives and fear caused. And all an attack like that requires is a guy with a gun, and good aim. You may not even get caught, especially if cover a wide area (multiple cities, for instance).

You can't win a war against terrorists, especially not with cops, soldiers, and gadgets.

Fair enough (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025466)

I can't see anything wrong with that, if it can help in saving a single life, it's worth it.

And, by the way: First post!

Re:Fair enough (0, Offtopic)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025469)

And, by the way: First post!

Sorry, the "hot nekkid chicks" guy got first post. At least it wasn't some GNAA d*ckhead.

I think its interesting... (2, Insightful)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025468)

If this had been suggested a mere week ago, it wouldn't of been given a second thought... invasion of privacy... something about perverts you know...

Hype it up! (5, Insightful)

FTL (112112) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025472)

Argh. I have had it with people and organisations cashing in on terrorism. Some quick facts:
* Population of London: 5.5m
* Average deaths per day: 215
* Increase of death rate on 7 July: 23%
If there had been 50 extra heart attacks in London on 7 July, do you think that it would have been noticed? If it weren't for the wall to wall media coverage, this would have been a non-event.

Britain used to have a really good track record on terrorism. When the IRA blew something up, there would be a brief note about it on the news, then nothing. Terrorism is about publicity, and over-reporting it simply feeds it. But it seems that the dymanics have changed. Now there are too many organisations who have a vested interest in a continual state of terrorism.

Re:Hype it up! (2, Interesting)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025502)

The IRA also did a very different kind of 'terrorism', they gave warnings in almost all cases, so it wasn't exactly big news when it happened. They tending to hit buildings instead of people (sure people died, but not in concentrated numbers like this case, in most situations). And besides, if they reported heavily on the IRA activities, it would lead to debate on the topic, and since England has more then its fair share of atrocities on that topic, they certainly don't like to spark debate. The other issue is that the IRA was a 'brittish only' issue, were as middle eastern terrorists are obviously going to reported more heavily on in the American media, which makes everything seem far far larger scale.

Re:Hype it up! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025554)

What a load of shit! Fucking Americans... did your grandfather once sipped some Guiness and now you think it makes you qualified to comment on the Northern Ireland issue?

1. The "atrocities" (as you put it) in NI were covered in enormous detail by the British press.

2. The IRA didn't target buildings... they targeted civilians. They were terrorists

3. The IRA did not give warnings in "almost all cases."

4. "so it wasn't exactly big news when it happened." -- what fucking planet do you live on?

5. The IRA is not one organisation.

The fact is, most Americans know *nothing* about Northern Ireland and yet all seem to have a loudly voiced opinion on it. That's the reason legions of fat ignorant New York police officers (who think that Northern Ireland is somehow an "occupied territory" and the IRA are freedom fighters) kept raising money for the IRA to keep blowing up shopping centres full of men, women and children during peak shopping hours.

Re:Hype it up! (0, Flamebait)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025575)

Why don't you SHUT THE FUCK UP, I'm not an American thank you very much.

Re:Hype it up! (1)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025586)

éist do bhéal

Re:Hype it up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025595)

They tending to hit buildings instead of people

Omagh.

That was worse; the Real IRA warned the police, deliberatly giving incorrect information to increase casualties. Nice.

Re:Hype it up! (1)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025602)

Maybe I should clear that statement up, I meant that they tending to give general warning that they're gonna be blowing shit up. If the IRA was to suddenly blow something up today, we'd all be surprised. Most likely we'd expect them to make some kind of statement saying 'fuck the ceasefire' in so many words. Then in a few hours maybe days or weeks, they'll blow something up. Were as this attack was hardly announced in this way.

Re:Hype it up! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025643)

Indeed, the IRA conduct 'Gentlemans' terrorism. They have an agreed list of targets and code words formulated with the police, and when an explosive is planted at one, a note is sent to the police with that code work (in theory).

Then, the police evacuate the area, the bomb explodes (you'll hardly ever see an IRA bomb defused, and that would break the trust between police and the IRA), the point is made, life moves on.

This is the problem with the terrorists of the 21st centuty: they deliberately target civilian targets with as little warning as possible, so as to increase the civilian death toll and instill as much 'I might die tomorrow' fear as possible.

The problem they are likely to find with the results of this week's attack is two-fold: Firstly, there were relatively few deaths (FAR fewer than the Paddington rail-crash, for example); Secondly, their attack hasn't heavily influenced the public conciousness.

However, politicians seem not to have appreciated this. If they truely do spend this money on these sensors (something I *highly* doubt), this will be pure waste: the public won't feel any more safe (personally, I would feel *violated* by this measure) and it will most likely have not effect on reducing terrorism.

The recent wave of terrorist attacks has had one main theme: they try to be unconventional. All of the governments of the afflicted countries have been quick to bolt the stable door behind the horse - but they've not yet thought of the pig pen.

Re:Hype it up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025505)

The government used to see terrorist attacks as a failure on its part. Something to be resisted but also something to be embarrased about. Now it sees it as a vindication - it's a chance for the prime minister to show how much he cares and for the government to remind us how much they need them. The way this country is going is getting increasingly scary. I wish I thought the Tories would be any better, but I don't.

Re:Hype it up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025509)

7,421,228 actually and thats without the commuters

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London [wikipedia.org]

Re:Hype it up! (0)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025606)

Those who push technological silver bullet against terror are wrong. I think the full body scanners isn't a good idea. But on the flip side, there are people like you...

> If there had been 50 extra heart attacks...
> If it weren't for the wall to wall media coverage, this would have been a non-event.

Those - like you - who exhibit such disregard about human murder are just about as bad.

Don't know where you live, but if some criminal organization in your city shot or strangled 50 people one night, would you still call it a non-event?

Would you be so cavalier in your comments if it was your father or daughter who was murdered.

Fool!

Re:Hype it up! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025653)

You obviously don't get the point.

Obviously the perpretrators should be caught, and any simple measures that can be done to make something similar harder in the future should be done.

However, it's also a very unusual event, and going to extreme costs to slightly reduce the chance of something similar happening again is losing perspective.

Your poorly thought out emotional appeal just goes to show how irrationally most people react to events such as this.

Profit range? (4, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025473)

QinetiQ stands to make £150,000 to £2 million per station

That's quite some gap. Suggests that figures are being plucked out of the air, perhaps?

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Profit range? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025490)

I guess this depends on the size of the station, and the number of people travelling. You would need more detectors at King's Cross than at a small station.

Re:Profit range? (3, Insightful)

Ochu (877326) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025495)

Or possibly just the difference between stations with tens of thousands of people going through them each day, and those with ten.

Re:Profit range? (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025504)

Maybe, but the estimate could be based in fact as well. Suppose the machines are a little over £150,000 apiece, the smallest stations will need one scanner and the largest might need 10 or more, that would result in a range similar to the one quoted.

Re:Profit range? (2, Interesting)

rking (32070) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025516)

QinetiQ stands to make £150,000 to £2 million per station

That's quite some gap.


Makes perfect sense if the £150,000 is the figure given by the government and £2 million is the fugure arrived at by everyone else. The government lives in a dream land when it comes to the figures that they think everyone else will believe. It's almost like they WANT to destroy any credibility they have left.

Re:Profit range? (2, Insightful)

hardcode (105714) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025557)

The £150,000 is the initial quote - £2m is what it will finally cost. This is a .gov.uk project after all.

Re:Profit range? (1)

mlk (18543) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025579)

tony has to ask himself who he wants to follow him, Brown, or a Tory.

Re:Profit range? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025571)

I like the comment about the "UK's military-industrial complex." Here's a clue for Americans: These days there is no UK military-industrial complex. Possibly because we have no industry these days. :)

The truth is, the you'd be better off saying "The US/UK military/industrial/political complex" -- take a look who owns QinetiQ for example. You want to know why the UK ends up supporting the US in military matters? It's because these days, the UK/US military split doesn't exist behind the scenes. Just different uniforms... usually made by the same companies... and mostly the same weapons made by the same companies.

Re:Profit range? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025658)

" the UK/US military split doesn't exist behind the scenes"

Tactically, and strategically, the US and UK militaries are very different. Strategically, the US holds back major powers with the 2-front war model and multi-tiered mutual assured destruction (MAD) from SLBMs, ICBMs, and stealth bombers. The US military is strategically designed to handle the doomsday scenario as well as a sudden WWII scenario. The UK military is not designed to handle either. The UK military is designed to supplement allies in any doomsday scenario and be able to assert 'influence' throughout the world. They are not able to fight a major 2-front war nor is their MAD capability failsafe.

Tactically, the UK feeds off the US, but this is not vice versa. This is due to military budgets. While the US can spend $250 million per year for each of 12 aircraft carriers (not including $8 billion construction cost), $1 billion for each stealth aircraft, etc. with a military budget [cia.gov] of $370 billion, the UK cannot afford the superpower weapons with a military budget of $43 billion. While many people watching the Iraqi wars come to the conclusion that the US and UK have similar weapons, tactics, and strategies, they are missing some big points about the military layout of both countries. These weapons are being used because they are the tool needed in the current wars. They are not the only weapons at disposal. It is easy to forget the the US Army accounts for less than 30% [mit.edu] of the annual operating budget of the US military (not including wartime deployment costs). While the weapons of the armies of the UK and US are similar, the areas of most importance: air, sea, and space warfare--the weapons vary drastically.

Re:Profit range? (1)

chorltonian (887201) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025616)

As it says in the article, that depends on the number of entrances & exits

Re:Profit range? (1)

Clemensa (800698) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025627)

Depends on the size of the station....some have multiple entrances serving multiple lines, some have one entrance with only one line. As part of the tube is now privatised, and not all the stations were owned by the tube anyway (there are a few which have always been owned by British Rail), I'd be interested to see if they all adopt this technology - I know that my local station (BR owned) didn't adopt the ticket machine entry for a good few years after it was standard at most other stations.

Hello Total Recall (1)

Ty_Berg (712317) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025477)

Add the new transparent thin-film transistor (TTFT) material to a glass wall and you have the scanner in Total Recall!

Hello David Cronenburg (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025553)

I think exploding heads would be more visually appealing.

Problem (4, Insightful)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025480)

These scanners still can see through clothing, but they can't see through all materials. This means that (a) there's a security hole or more likely (b) anyone carrying anything that cannot be seen through and is large enough to potentially carry something dangerous will have to be pulled aside and taken a closer look at. In the second case this will slow things down just like airport security slows things down making it even more of a hassle to take the tube.

The Middle East Is Everywhere (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025482)

Here(In Israel) we got used to this long time ago.

You can't go to anywhere without passing thru metal detectors(full size or hand used) and surface body checks.

Armed guards are common view.

I can't remember when was the last time that I've entered a mall and nobody have checked me.

The terror is taking over our lives, Now all over the world.

Re:The Middle East Is Everywhere (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025526)

The terror is taking over our lives, Now all over the world

Only because you create it yourselves. In the meantime the country I live in is in no threat at all since we do not occupy other countries and kill their civilians.

Re:The Middle East Is Everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025533)

Great... And you guys there(In Israel) started it.

Thanks.

Re:The Middle East Is Everywhere (2, Insightful)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025545)

The terror is taking over our lives, Now all over the world.

Bomb attacks in London aren't new. The difference is that now the government are hyping the fear.

Re:The Middle East Is Everywhere (3, Insightful)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025565)

umm, i wouldn't brag about "been there, done that" in this case. that's no way to live. how about we not occupy/invade/bomb/etc other ppls homes and countries so we don't have to live like this?

Explosive 'sniffers' (2, Insightful)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025483)

Wouldn't they be better off putting in devices that can detect explosives? I'm sure such things exist. 390,000 people use the Underground during the morning peak - is it feasible to scan all these?

Re:Explosive 'sniffers' (1)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025548)

With 390000 people going through the system, there's not a hope in hell of a body scanner, or explosive sniffer, or anything being of any use whatsoever. If it were sensitive enough to actually detect anything, the number of false positives from people carrying odd-looking packages, or who had handled chemicals, or whatever, would bring the system to a halt.

And there are hundreds of stations on the system, many of them in outlying areas, and the big central stations have hundreds of turnstiles. The cost of buying and manning enough scanners would be astronomical.

And it would all be useless even it it worked. The trains don't always run underground. A terrorist could just drop a bomb onto the track from a bridge, without going through the scanners at all. Or blow up something else next time.

Re:Explosive 'sniffers' (1)

EvilMonkeySlayer (826044) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025588)

Actually, I remember hearing about a scanner that was able to detect explosives just by walking through it.. I believe it had the ability to "sniff" the explosives in a similar way that a dog is able to.

Can't remember what it was called, will try and find a link if I can.

Of course this is a cue for people making jokes, like:
Does it sniff your butt and try to hump your legs?

Way too easy to defeat (1)

PontifexPrimus (576159) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025635)

If these things did exist in the form given above it would be the easiest thing in the world to defeat it: If you're a terrorist, get a little bomb-making material (a real tiny amount), rub it on your hands and thenjostle people on the street, on the buses, in shopping malls; dissolve some, put it in a mouth spray bottle and spray it on door knobs, floormats or clothes that are left hanging somewhere (I'm sure you can think of more ways to get that "smell" undetected on people). Soon enough the number of false positives will
a) bring the system grinding to a halt
or
b) cause the people at the sniffer to turn the detection sensitivity way, way down (probably enough to get a good sealed package through).
I'm not encouraging this behaviour, but it should be obvious that this particular solution is pretty much worthless for this particular application.

Re:Explosive 'sniffers' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025632)

If you have detectors, then you have to have security people to run them. That's the expensive part. Once you have the people, you may as well use sniffer dogs as dubious machines. Probably cheaper, probably less prone to "failure", and people _like_ dogs.

How about this idea instead? (5, Funny)

Seventh Magpie (826312) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025484)

You know, pay me a tenth of what is being charge and I will set up a few of these Sony cameras [wired.com] for them that will do the same trick! Although I would hate to give them up from my collection. What else will I do at the beach each weekend now?

Reactive Rather Than Proactive (2, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025486)

That's all well and good but it's closing the barn door after the cows are out. Is it really so hard to think like a terrorist asshole and take some steps to secure the things they might want to blow up before they blow them up? I mean, airlines have always been juicy terrorist targets and intel had shown that various organizations were planning on using airplanes as bombs as much as a decade before 9/11. Madrid should have made us stop and think, "Hey, maybe they might attack mass transit elsewhere!" Why do we have to wait until after an attack has taken place before we go "Oh shit, maybe we should secure that!"?

And when someone does try to proactively think like a terrorist asshole and says something like "Hey, it'd be pretty easy to contaminate the nation's milk supply," our politicians try to censor them instead of saying "Oh shit maybe we better fix that!" I know dealing with terrorism is a hard problem and our politicians would rather be securing pork for their home districts but we're paying them to provide real leadership. Maybe it's time to start evaluating how good a job they're actually doing...

It is much easier to gain and maintain control... (1)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025604)

Keep in mind that it is much easier to gain and maintain control by stepping up and looking like you are taking charge after a disaster than it is to by perpetually doing things that avert the disaster.

If governments really were interested in protecting the people they supposedly represent, then you would see them trying to cure the disease (incredibly bad foreign relations) rather than the symptoms (terrorism).

One last thing to keep in mind, as much as I don't often give governments the benefit of the doubt:
You can take all of the preventative measures you like, but you will never know if they are actually working. You can only know when they are not working at the times when these incidents occur.

Not saying that this has happened in this or any other case of terrorism, but just stating what I believe to be true.

Re:Reactive Rather Than Proactive (1)

Clemensa (800698) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025656)

Actually, there were a lot of plans which people put togther in the wake of 9/11 in case London ever did get bombed, and I for one have a lot of praise for the way the emergency services handled the situation. I think any attempt to improve security is a good thing (although you are right when you say it's a bit late...) however, I don't think there is an awful lot you can do - you cannot feasibly search every person coming into London.

As an offside, I'd like to know how they are going to install these scanners - anyone who works in central London will know how congested stations can get, so I hope that they don't reduce throughflow as this will make the tube even more of a nightmare than it is already.

Shitty (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025487)

These machines are expensive, I doubt they would be able to afford to get as of them as there are turnstyles in each station currently. As such, it would seem that this will be a terrible bottleneck in getting people on the trains, I mean, everyone will have to line up to go through these scanners. Sure, some stations might have several, not just one, but in any case they're not going to have one for each turnstyle in the station currently, so it's going to be a pain.

Public more willing to accept surveillance? (4, Insightful)

malkavian (9512) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025493)

I don't think so..
I'm regularly in and around London, use the underground and the trains.
This scanner deal will be as much use as a chocolate teapot.
Do you get stopped for carrying an iPod, or some other music device?
No?
Then what if that's just the cover for a bomb?

There is no protection from terrorism. If somebody really wants to get you, they will.
If you spend your life worrying over it, stress'll get you before the bomb.

Be vigilant, yes. Watch out for the unclaimed baggage on the tube or the bus.
Keep your eyes open.
If everyone does that, you've got the best intelligent surveillance network in the world. The general public.

My first reaction to seeing the bombs go off was sadness for the people hit.
The second was a wave of resignation that phoney Tony would use this as an excuse to get additional surveillance in, and railroad the ID scheme.
Part one dead of track.. We see what happens next.

Re:Public more willing to accept surveillance? (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025660)

There is no protection from terrorism. If somebody really wants to get you, they will.
If you spend your life worrying over it, stress'll get you before the bomb.


I wish the United States would understand that, and would tone down their hysteria about terrorism. That hysteria has made such incredible damage! Turning Iraq into an incredibly fertile breeding ground for terrorism is just one example among many.

-- Terrorism may have turned the United States into a nation of fear and aggression, but it won't succeed in Europe.

Why do we never see GOVERNMENT agents on camera? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025496)

You see every other little thing on the security cameras, people dropping their packages. People picking their nose. People bending over.

But when it comes to something like this, it's amazing that you never see anything.

Could a secret government military unit do this? Ex-military? It's worth billions in revenue for some companies out there and that includes a tax increase for the government to cover the expense.

Follow the money. If this becomes profitable, be ready for more attacks like this.

What good are all these cameras? And now they want more expensive stuff that isn't going to help much anyway? Can government agents simply pass right through them or go around with the "proper credentials"?

Why not figure out the expense of all this ahead of time and then realize it would just be cheaper to just stay out of other countries' business. (if this is a real outsider attack)

Re:Why do we never see GOVERNMENT agents on camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025625)

You are living in some kind of dream world or you have smoked too much crack cocaine.


The chances of this being carried out by some secret government conspiracy are precisely zero. Do you honestly believe that you could find any UK "secret agents" that would be prepared to carry out an act like merely to increase profits for some defence contractors? Wouldn't it be a hell of a lot easier just to cook the books to give them the money?


Perhaps that kind of thing could happen in America where it is even more evident that profits are more important than human life, but it would not happen in the UK.


Stop wasting everyone's time with stupid theories.

Another Tragedy (3, Insightful)

Tilmitt (856895) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025498)

"After today, I expect the travelling public will be more prepared to put up with a greater level of surveillance." Mr Stringer said.

I find it personally very disturbing how much people are willing to sell away their liberties for "security". We've all been to see Episode 3, but did we let its message get lost in the pretty effects? Better security could be gotten from not inflicting massive suffering on the world through plain wrong foreign policy.

Re:Another Tragedy (1)

sol_geek77 (742238) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025628)

I am currious how to increase security but not decrease liberty? In network/computer security some liberties are lost by increasing security. Limiting network traffic, filtering, not allowing users to install software, etc..... How is the rest of the world any different?

There is always a sliding balance between increasing security and decreasing liberty. The right amount of each is the fine balance that I believe not everyone will ever agree upon.

If you can find a way to increase security *and* increase liberties in any area of life; be it computers or transit, you will be a very wealthy individual. But until that day comes comprimises have to be made at some point. I do agree that when a terrorist attack take place the government overreacts, but the alternative is to do nothing and be blamed. Within a couple of hours of the attacks and already people were criticizing the govenment on what they could have done to prevent it.

Nice enough in theory... (2, Insightful)

soma_0806 (893202) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025506)

I see two issues that will probably render this very expensive piece of macherinery fairly ineffective.

First, it is designed to view scads of people at once on video screens. Pinpointing just which person in a mass is the one carrying the "questionable object" may be difficult, particularly during hours of peak use.

Second, after this quote...

"We can solve the modesty issue by overlaying the body with graphics except for the area which causes concern."

The terrorists now all know just where to carry bombs to remain undetected!

You FAIL8 it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025507)

lubrication. You to avoid 5o as to as those non gay, track of where members are track of where

Pussy problems (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025508)

My pussy is suffering from a reeking yeast infection. I don't know what to do. My faggot boyfriend won't take me to the doctor because he says that he has to recompile his crappy Linux kernel. As you well know, compiling on a 386 with 16 MB of RAM will take an eternity. He also says that he won't go anywhere near a pussy unless it's a Penguin's. *Sigh* I guess I'll just have to go to a zoo and get him his damn penguin. That's what I get for going out with a Dirty GNU/Linux hippie.

NOT going to happen!! (3, Interesting)

MrBandersnatch (544818) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025518)

If youve ever used the underground extensively youll be aware that a) Its a nightmare getting in/out at many stations at peak hours. b) On off-peak hours gates are often unmanned/broken meaning you can just walk right on. c) Many stations have gates that you can just jump over to enter/exit. d) Once in the underground system you can transfer between lines without going through any gates.

All the above means that any form of scanning system would be so easy to circumvent as to be entirely useless....unless they were to more than TRIPLE the manpower at non-central stations...and trust me that NO-ONE will be happy at seeing these costs passed onto them via ticket price increases.

Re:NOT going to happen!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025605)

Exactly.
I wonder if there will be scanners on all the stops of the Northen Line?
I could get a tube from the suburbs in the south of London, and ride all the way in to the centre without a single check.

Education (5, Insightful)

Ochu (877326) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025519)

Technology can only go so far. It seems that most of us Londoners have forgotten the lessons we learnt from the IRA. Ten years ago, you would never, ever let an unattended bag go ignored, and you would never leave bags unattended. Until three days ago, you saw both happening all the time. We need to remind people how easy it is to beat terrorism if everyone works together. I would also like to add a personal view on this, which is; these guys are pathetic. We have grown up with the IRA, and there is nothing special about these. Why the fuss?

Re:Education (2, Insightful)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025536)

Because in this case over reporting benifited the governments agenda, while during the IRA's peak, reporting on there activities only hurt them. It sparked debate on the subject, and that makes at least some people mention the fair share of atrocities commited by the Brittish Government (bloody sunday, loughall etc).

This reminds me of "Total Recall" (2, Interesting)

darkonc (47285) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025521)

Hey, he's got a gun!
BLAM!

Then, of course, there's the problem of needing a scanner at every bus stop too -- and what do you do about bazookas? A missile defence system on every double-decker bus?

All this is going to do is annoy the passengers and force Al Quaida to bomb places like Heerrods on Christmas eve (or worse yet -- boxing day!)

Oh yeah -- and inconvenience passengers.
And give the security 'droid a woody.

Re:This reminds me of "Total Recall" (1)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025555)

This isn't the prevent guns, its to prevent, sposively bombs. Trying to kill people on a crowded subway train with a pistol would be retarded. You might get 2 shots off before someone decides to be a hero and tackles you. Clearly a bomb or other explosive is the only choise. And while its most likely going to be possible to defeat these machines, it will provide superficial security, and thats what counts. If the terrorists hit something else next time, then weve done our job!

Scanners (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025524)

There are 4 billion people on earth. 237 are Scanners. They have the most terrifying powers ever created... and they are winning.

Re:Scanners (1)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025641)

More like 6 billion acually...

Uhuh (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025530)

Well that's one way to alleviate congestion on the tube.. prepare to see passenger numbers drop to 5%. Oh and ill be demanding copies of my scans under the data protection act just to slow things down.

Costs unaccounted for (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025558)

Each station would cost from £150,000 to £2 million to fit depending on its size and the number of entrances.
That's a lot of money, and then you realize that the London Undergound has 275 stations [tfl.gov.uk] . Supposing that the average cost to equip a station is the average of 150,000 and 2,000,000 (1,075,000), that's a total of £295,625,000 or over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS!

The other cost that the article doesn't even mention is the cost of additional security staff, I mean, at every station entrance you've got to have a few employees who are going to pull aside somebody who looks suspicious on the scanner.

If bombs are illegal... (4, Funny)

ilduce (141065) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025561)

If bombs are illegal...then only the terrorists will have bombs. We need to legalise them for everyone. That way, the next time someone plans on blowing something up, they'll think twice, 'cause they'll know that everyone else has a bomb just waiting for them.

Re:If bombs are illegal... (1)

M3rk1n_Muffl3y (833866) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025576)

You mean like they do with guns in America?

Re:If bombs are illegal... (1)

chibiace (898665) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025613)

dont people keep shooting eachother in america?

Re:If bombs are illegal... (1)

M3rk1n_Muffl3y (833866) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025622)

Nah, you are probably thinking of Canada.

Re:If bombs are illegal... (1)

chibiace (898665) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025650)

yes obviously

Re:If bombs are illegal... (1)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025584)

LOL... national bomb assn, nba? perhaps we can also say we need them for hunting

Those who paid attention during Fahrenheit 9/11... (5, Interesting)

M3rk1n_Muffl3y (833866) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025566)

...will have heard about a Private Equity company known as Carlyle Group. This is one of biggest and most profitable Private Equity firms in the world. The shareholders include the Bush family, the bin Laden family and former British PM John Major may still be their Chairman. It's a bit like Milo Minderbinder's outfit in Catch 22, where everyone benefits, because everyone is a part of the syndicate. Well anyway they own QinitiQ. And please don't assume that I am suggesting anything other than the fact that the war on terror, has been quite profitable for some parties involved.

Penn and Teller's B*llsh*t on Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025569)

Did anyone see that episode they did on how security goes awry because of a bored person is the one watching the monitors and decides to move the camera away from the subject's house and car to the subject's neighbors' house because some hot and heavy action is going down there. Of course, while the person was watching a domestic steamy soap opera, the subject left his house via his car, unbeknownst to the surveillance person.

if you haven't seen it, try to find it.

The point: people are the weakest link in hi-tech.
Giving them something interesting to look at (naked bodies/ underneath people's cloths) isn't going to do anything except allow them to alleviate their boredom by paying attention the wrong things. Bad solution.

Good Solutions: metal detectors. bomb sniffing dogs. hell, bomb sniffing monkeys would probably work well too.

Water enters via the weakest point (4, Insightful)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025573)

So we make Tube entrances secure.

Bombers then attack concert halls.

We make concert halls secure.

Bombers then attack football stadiums.

We make football stadiums secure...

There is no purely defensive solution to this problem.

--
Toby

Re:Water enters via the weakest point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025603)

I wrote the Penn and Teller post earlier...
was going to make the same point you made but decided to delete it.

My alternative solution was to put the hitech scanners outside of everyone's front door. If they are up to no good and alarm goes off. They won't make it too far. That way you nip all things in the bud before bad people make it to the sidewalk. Of course, that means no civil liberities for anyone. But Oh well you don't want the terrorizers to win so sacrifice freedoms to ensure the bad guys don't win. Eventually the bad guys won't hate us for our freedoms because we won't have any left. So once we have no freedoms left, the terrorizers will finally like us.

Ha. The ultimate solution. And noones mentioned it yet. HA. HA. crap.

At least (2, Funny)

BillsPetMonkey (654200) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025581)

It'll keep the generally rude and indifferent London Underground staff attentive for a change with exclamations like "Phwoar! Get that camera-fingy on err!".

Read Schneier's "Beyond Security" (5, Insightful)

stereoroid (234317) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025617)

How many copies of that book can you get for the cost of one scanner? It doesn't have all the answers - how could it? - it is designed to get you asking. So you install an expensive scanner at the entrance to Piccadilly Circus tube station. A huge queue forms, waiting to walk through the scanner. Add in a "queuing system" (tansabarriers etc.), so you have 200+ people waiting patiently in an enclosed space. Bang.

Over-reaction (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025620)

Before people start getting their knickers in a twist, they might want to remember that:

a) This story is being denied by the government and QinetiQ.
b) Tony Blair has specifically stated that he does NOT intend to bring in a raft of draconian laws and new surveillance powers.

Both of these were reported on the BBC.

defeated by a lead film bag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025621)

Can't these kinds of scanners be defeated by a $10 lead film protection bag? No way they see through lead foil...

Seems more like eye candy than protection (1)

SolidGround (883883) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025624)

"Dummy devices could be installed at some stations to reduce the overall cost."

I read that as: "we won't be bothering to install them on stations with low traffic."
It probably isn't too difficult to set these things off with something that looks suspicious but if you should get stopped lets you off the hook. As others have pointed out, once you're in, you're unencumbered to go to any other station you please.

Should it come to that, I also don't see this stopping suicide bombers since all they need is a crowd; the fact that they'll get detected probably doesn't deter them a whole lot.

Even assuming the system is completely fail-safe it still won't prevent anything, it just means they'll try it somewhere else.
If it's really about offering protection and making a difference then taking the whole budget and using it to train and deploy security guards all over the city would be a lot more effective. It's not fancy or much of a guarantee but at least you'll have a minimum level of security all over instead of pockets where you just need to move a few feet and you can get away with trying anything.

Utter stupidity (2, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025634)

What a waste of money. Assuming it ever got the greenlight I'm sure it will never occur to the terrorists to switch to another target.


I'm sure it won't occur to them to simply set their bombs off in a commuter train, or a bus, or a concert, or a cinema or anywhere else with a sizable crowd.


It's actually scary to see the massive lines of people queuing to go through security at most airports thanks to more stringent screening. It would be trivial enough for someone to walk up to that line with a suitcase full of explosives and kill several hundred people.

"millimetre wave technology" = microwaves (1)

bani (467531) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025642)

they think this is such a clever way of avoiding saying microwaves ...

wonder how long it will take for websites to start collecting and distributing pr0n collected from these scanners.

from tfa:

Simon Stringer, managing director of QinetiQ's security division, said: "We have been asked to deploy some of this equipment.

"It would certainly assist in preventing this sort of thing from happening again.


No, it won't. Sorry. It just won't. Would you be willing to stake your company on it? Yeah. Didn't think so.

Good grief, what a load of cobblers this is (2, Informative)

handelaar (65505) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025645)

Nearly 300 stations, including a couple of dozen where access to the tube system is gained by walking across the platform from another train service.

There are still dozens of stations where there's no ticket gate operating for half the day because the station's unstaffed.

The system can't be sealed around scanners, and if it can't be sealed, there's no point.

And if you try to get over half a billion sterling wasted like this past me and my fellow Londoners, we'll take you out back and beat you with a shovel.

Can't see through water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025647)

Y'know, millimeter wave imaging works because the wave passes through clothing, but not water or metal; so you end up "seeing" the 70% water surface of the human skin.

How many Londoners carry bottles of water into the tube??

How many rainy days does London have in a year??

How many metalic briefcases or laptops??
(or will you have to pass a metal detector TOO? What about the buses?)

Just another defense industry boondoggle.

Terrorism thrives on publicity (5, Insightful)

stoanhart (876182) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025651)

It seems to me that terrorism only funtions because people <i>way</i> over react to it.

Think about it. How likely are you to die in a car accident, or from a heart attack, or just some other stupid accident/conincidence? Now how likely are you to be bombed? You should be "terrorised" of the free way, not a bunch of extremeists!

So many people die of hunger, disease, and civil war in developing countries every day. I don't know the figures, but I immagine more die daily than in all terrorist attacks in the last few years combined. <i>This</i> is where we should be spending out money. Just maybe, if we did that, people would stop hating developed nations, and stop bombing them!

And how much news coverage do the attrocities mentioned above get? A 30 second blurb on the news once a week, if that at all? Maybe if we treated terrorism that way, it would stop as well!

Think like a terrorist. Your objective is not to kill people, it's to get a message out. Unfortunately, killing people is the easiest way to get attention. Shitloads of attention. Days of prime time TV coverage. Of course you will resort to this method.

However, would you do it if the evening news went something like, "and in other news, London was bombed today. 30 to 50 people are believed to be dead. Now, back to the Simpsons."

Think about it...

They forgot this...! (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025657)

The authorities forgot to consider "scanning" for gas! I am sure a deadly gas attack would wreck more damage since gas is spread by air circulation as compared to physical proximity in case of a bomb.

To make matters worse, a gas can be made to have its effects way much later, say an hour. Now, wait a minute...think about that.

So many people just carry small parts of the bomb (1)

The Creator (4611) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025665)

And assemble them in/on the station/train. AQ(que the on/off suit jokes) tend to be well organized so it doesn't seem like a big problem for them.


Imagine for example many ice cream cones with TNT in them(some with detonators) thrown into the same waste paper bin.

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