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Making Airport Scanners Less Objectionable 681

Posted by kdawson
from the still-the-little-matter-of-x-rays dept.
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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Making Airport Scanners Less Objectionable

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  • Rule 34? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hatman39 (1759474) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:47AM (#34305140)
    Anyone care to google: Funhouse mirror p0rn? Because I sense rule 34...
    • Re:Rule 34? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:12AM (#34305372) Journal

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

      • Re:Rule 34? (Score:5, Informative)

        by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:17AM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bberens (965711) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:10AM (#34306004)
        The oppressors have already won by framing the discussion around what is the most intrusion/inconvenience the public is willing to accept vs. what is the least amount of intrusion needed to provide a reasonable amount of safety.
        • Re:Rule 34? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:32AM (#34306294)
          We were safe right after the 9/11 attacks. The guys who forced the pilot to crash the plane upped the anti; Hijackings are no longer guaranteed, or even likely, to end with the passengers lives saved, so now they need to defend their lives themselves. There will be no more aerial hijackings, and anyone who tries will need to be scooped up into carrier bags to be taken from the plane.

          As for bombs; We have trained dogs, x-ray machines for packages, and all manner of technology for checking packages, but not all packages are checked. We need to implement higher controls on the baggage side of airport security, not the passenger side. Train more dogs, get more baggage x-ray machines, and train more TSA agents for the behind-the-scenes security procedures.

          What we don't need is 40 year olds rent-a-cops with authority issues touching the crotch of seven year old kids before they get on their trip to Disney World in case their hiding a kilo of Cemtex in their pants.
          • Re:Rule 34? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2010 @12:26PM (#34307010)

            I never understood why after somebody hijacked a plane with some fucking knives, we decided to make sure nobody could possibly defend themselves when the one person we are worried about brings a functioning laptop, breaks it and uses the sharp plastic to slit the throat of the guy next to him to show it can be a weapon, and quickly take a hostage. Everything can be a weapon if somebody wants it to be. The only thing the TSA has ever done is made it less likely anybody would survive an actual incident. Period.

      • Re:Rule 34? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kintar1900 (901219) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:21AM (#34306146) Homepage
        Yeah, they seem to be missing the whole reason that people object to these things. 1) Don't wanna be seen naked 2) Unconvinced the radiation from the devices is safe 3) Big Brother is snooping too much in general TFA's proposal doesn't really address any of those.
    • Re:Rule 34? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday November 22, 2010 @12:18PM (#34306902) Homepage Journal

      Some people can be titilated by some really grotesque images. There's porn of old women, fat women, etc.

      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

      They already did when they started making everyone tale their shoes off and go through all the security theater. They're just raising the death rate further.

      Odd how a transportation safety administration causes travel to be less safe. perhaps they should call it the Transportation Security Theater Administration?

      3,000 people died on American soil from terrorism in this decade, but meanwhile 45,000 people die on the highways annually.

  • by FictionPimp (712802) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:48AM (#34305150) Homepage

    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.

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:58AM (#34305238) Journal

      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.

      • by capnchicken (664317) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:37AM (#34305652)

        The funny thing is, we don't really even need that! There were some very good measures put in place after 9/11 that prevented the use of commercial airliners being used as missiles against us, namely a locked and reinforced cockpit door and armed air marshals. This also prevents hijackings for any reason, such as extortion and the like. Either way, as long as these measures are in place, planes being used as missiles is mitigated. And I firmly believe I will not see it happen again in the US in my lifetime.

        Now that the threat to the general public is diminished the only thing a terrorist can do to a plane now is blow it up, and to that I say: so what? It's a waste of a terrorist organization's resources, they can accomplish much better kill and terror rates on other vectors. I don't even think the TSA should be the one scanning the people at all, it should be the individual airlines. That way you can choose to pay for your security if you really want it, and competitive practices can find the optimal solution.

        • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:58AM (#34305884) Journal

          they can accomplish much better kill and terror rates on other vectors

          Like blowing themselves up in the security checkpoint line, for example.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          . I don't even think the TSA should be the one scanning the people at all, it should be the individual airlines.

          Cannot work, because they share a "post-screened" area. Therefore, all of the planes are at the security of the lowest common denominator.

          It's a waste of a terrorist organization's resources, they can accomplish much better kill and terror rates on other vectors

          But empirically, that's wrong. In the 1970's there were a lot of terrorists on planes, hence security. The problem is you're neglecti

        • by Scrameustache (459504) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:33AM (#34306318) Homepage Journal

          the only thing a terrorist can do to a plane now is blow it up, and to that I say: so what? It's a waste of a terrorist organization's resources, they can accomplish much better kill and terror rates on other vectors.

          And yet they don't... no one has walked into an airport and blown that up, even though it would work GREAT. It's as if there isn't a vast network of resourceful bombers looking to cause as much harm as possible... only a handful of amateurs. It's exactly as if that threat was overblown in order to gain power though fear.

      • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:08AM (#34305978)

        Yep profiling seems to work for the Israelis.

        Profiling, how the Israelis do it, isn't what Americans consider profiling. Americans consider it "oh, he's Middle-Eastern looking, search him." What I've read is that Israeli profiling is "talk for a few minutes with a highly trained expert, who uses your reactions to profile you." I would probably work, but would also involve replacing a lot of $8/hr TSA grunts with $?/hr TSA interviewers.

        Or eliminate the search completely (other than the standard Xraying of suitcases)

        And the standard magnetic scan. That can catch a lot and isn't invasive.

      • by Tuoqui (1091447)

        Before 9/11 this was an issue. Post-9/11 I dont think there is a real credible threat to air travel by someone's shoes, a person carrying a lighter or having a bottle of shampoo.

        If anyone is acting suspicious or tries to take over the plane you got what is it 5 terrorists say vs 100-200 passangers. It used to be the passangers feared being shot as hostages. Now they have a more reasonable fear of being used to run into buildings and most people put in that situaationof their life or thousands of lives will

      • by protektor (63514) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:21AM (#34306152)

        Actually your odds are a bit high. The Wall Street Journal says:

        The odds of dying in a terrorist attack on a plane in a given year are 1 in 25,000,000.
        The odds of a Westerner being killed by a terrorist in a given year are 1 in 3,000,000.
        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703481004574646963713065116.html [wsj.com]

        The NTSB says the odd for car accidents are:
        The odds of dying in a car accident in a given year are 1 in 18,585.
        The odds of simply being in a car accident in a given year are 1 in 5,889.
        http://www.ntsb.gov/ [ntsb.gov]

    • by leonardluen (211265) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:59AM (#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?

      • by vlm (69642) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:13AM (#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.

      • by troll -1 (956834) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:18AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by c (8461)

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

        Quite simply, because politicians and bureaucrats (a) aren't subject to the same security measures, and (b) don't worry about losing their jobs when entire families die in flaming car wrecks or train derailments.

        Of course, (b) ignores the fact than in reality, very, very few politicians and bureaucrats have ever been significantly punished for massive failures to protect people. But people are stupid t

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Nocuous (1567933)

        the last line of the summary says it all

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

        Your question goes to the heart of half the waste in human society - humans are REALLY BAD at risk assessment. We'd be better off scaling back airport security and putting a tenth of the saved resources into looking for plots, if at the same time we seriously enforced traffic safety laws (including speeding, reckless/aggressive driving, and seat belt use), and hey, while we're at it, stop feeding our kids so much high fructose corn syrup.
        Get into the habit of looking both ways before crossing a street (eve

      • by jbeaupre (752124) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:48AM (#34306494)

        In the US, flying is definitely safer than driving. Especially to Europe.

      • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Monday November 22, 2010 @12:05PM (#34306750)

        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?

        TFA didn't give any guesstimates of numbers, so I ran a few. If 5% of the 800 billion air miles in this country (as of Sept 09 to Aug 10) are replaced by highway miles, then that's something like 500 extra highway deaths. I'm using NHTSA and BTS statistics on fatality rates and air travel statistics.

        Naturally there are a lot of assumptions, like just how many air miles we might lose to people not willing to go through the enhanced intrusiveness and increased wait times. Certainly, not every lost air mile is made up with a highway mile. Many people would drive to a nearer vacation spot. Business that would have been conducted face-to-face might happen another way. Some people might just skip the trip altogether.

        Nevertheless, if the deaths are in the hundreds then that could easily exceed the lost of a single plane. These deaths would be spread out though throughout the year and across the country, so wouldn't make the news. So we'd feel safer even though statistically aren't.

    • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:02AM (#34305278) Journal

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by peragrin (659227)

        That is my objection. These images are stored and since it was a government project they are running windows and are easily hacked.

        In 12-18 months non distorted images of celebreties and politicians will be on the Internet.

    • by Eraesr (1629799) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:37AM (#34305644) Homepage
      I'm not sure what airport security is about anyway. As if "the terrorists" are dumb enough to still try and hijack a plane these days. A smart terrorist would look at events like the love parade [cbsnews.com]. All it takes is a bit of ruckus to have 20 people crushed to death. No need for elaborate plans to sneak complex explosives on board of an airplane. Just should "ITS A BOMB!" on a busy street and you can scrape the people off the street.
    • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:30AM (#34306274) Homepage Journal

      If we would just profile we wouldn't need half the security we have.

      What do you mean by "profile"?

      If you mean "apply extra scrutiny to certain ethnic and religious groups", that's completely and utterly useless.

      If you mean "put all of the passengers under intense stress and watch their reactions", like the Israelis do, well, that works very well... but makes the security screening vastly more manpower-intensive and time-consuming. And, frankly, much more unpleasant than being briefly groped. I've flown out of Ben-Gurion airport a few times and I'd rather have a prostate exam.

      The truth is that we simply don't need half the security we have. We should just roll it all back to pre-9/11 levels, keeping only the cockpit door locks. That plus the passengers' understanding that allowing their plane to be hijacked is likely to get them killed will mean that terrorism on airplanes will be restricted to killing passengers, making planes a low-value target. It's possible that the occasional Bad Thing will happen on an airplane, but it'll still be safer than driving.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:50AM (#34305164)

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

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

    by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:50AM (#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.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:53AM (#34305186) Journal

    "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. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DjReagan (143826) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:53AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dan East (318230) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:33AM (#34305594) Homepage Journal

      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.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by dskoll (99328) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:54AM (#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!!"

  • by ei4anb (625481) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:54AM (#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]
    • by jestill (656510) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:01AM (#34305260) Journal
      I would think that the cosmic radiation dose you get on the airplane is much more deadly than even that.
      • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:10AM (#34305338) Journal

        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.

      • by BetterSense (1398915) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:15AM (#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.
      • by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:16AM (#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.

      • by robot256 (1635039) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:28AM (#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.

      • by vlm (69642) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:29AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by blueg3 (192743)

          Dental X-rays are transmission X-ray images. The airport scanners are backscatter X-ray imaging machines, which use the Compton backscattering effect. Backscatter X-ray imaging is a newer technique that lets you use a very low X-ray intensity, but it can only image close to the surface of an object.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by moggie_xev (695282)
      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blueg3 (192743)

      An interesting analysis, but why does it assume a dose for backscatter X-rays? These should be well-known.

      Numbers I can easily find say 5-10 microrem. Dental X-ray is 2 millirem. So, that figure is off by a factor of 2 to 4. For every billion passengers screened, 4-8 will die from cancer as a result.

      Of course, the same background-radiation argument applies here as well, but in an interesting fashion. Added radiation exposure due to flying is something 0.3 mrem / hr. I have no data on hand for average flight

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DZign (200479)

      "... 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]

      I'm no statistics genius but is his logic correct ? Scan of 1 person increases his risk with 16 ten mill%, so given a billion scans, 16 people WILL die ?

      As far as I know my statistiscs, in this type every scan of a person is a singular event that doesn't have a relation with the next one (ie throw a coin for heads or tails, and the chance is still 50% no matter how many billion times you've thrown before) ?

      Only if the same person is scanned a few million times he will die from cancer as a result ?
      But scan a

  • Flap over invasive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:55AM (#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.

    • by ChipMonk (711367) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:13AM (#34305376) Journal
      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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joebagodonuts (561066)
      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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      People aren't outraged about the nudity itself, they're outraged that they are (basically) being rendered nude against their wishes*. That's an entirely different issue, and quite a legitimate one. I've got no objection to a good steak but I'd still get pissy if an armed man started throwing slabs of beef at me before he'd let me on the bus.

      *The choice between scan and "enhanced pat-down" amounts to coercion, IMO.

  • Easy? (Score:5, Funny)

    by falsified (638041) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:55AM (#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!

  • by rotide (1015173) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:56AM (#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.

  • Israel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MorpheousMarty (1094907) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:56AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CityZen (464761) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:14AM (#34305390) Homepage

      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xelios (822510) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:19AM (#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.
  • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:57AM (#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.
  • Stick Figures? (Score:4, Informative)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:58AM (#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.
  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:00AM (#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.

  • by KonoWatakushi (910213) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:00AM (#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]

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:01AM (#34305272) Homepage

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)

      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.

    • by protektor (63514) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:17AM (#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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by falsified (638041)

        My coworker left her ID at the hotel about a year ago and was treated with a 45-minute interview with a sheriff's deputy (but yes, they did let her through). Things may have changed between 2007 and 2009.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cplusplus (782679)

      The right to interstate travel without government interference has been upheld by the courts: flying is a right, not a privilege.

      Unfortunately, I bet a lawsuit with this argument wouldn't hold up in court. Pick any destination within the US. In all likelihood you can get to that same destination by car or other transportation that wouldn't require you to pass through an airport terminal. Air travel is just more "convenient" and I'm sure the counter argument would be framed that way.

    • by blueg3 (192743) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:53AM (#34305816)

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

      That's only true if the distortion is reversible and doesn't result in the loss of information. Distortions that result in information loss can't be un-distorted.

  • Do I Trust It? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcollins (135727) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:07AM (#34305316) Homepage

    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:07AM (#34305322) Homepage Journal

    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?

  • by protektor (63514) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:10AM (#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.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:27AM (#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.

  • Larger City (Score:4, Insightful)

    by b4upoo (166390) on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:39AM (#34305664)

    Any poor soul that gets a rush out of viewing those body scans needs to move to a larger city where getting laid is more than a twice in a life time experience.

  • by cfulton (543949) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:39AM (#34306372)
    The question I have is who controls the TSA. It is the belief of the American public that they elect representatives who then control the government. But, the TSA and Homeland Security in general seem not to be controlled by our elected representatives. I have yet to hear anyone outside the TSA who think these measures are necessary or valuable. Congressmen are fighting against it. Yet, the Homeland Security and the TSA don’t seem to care at all. They just continue to spout their “for your own good” refrain and do whatever they want. When the house to house searches and the interment of liberals start that will be for our on good too and we might no be able to stop it. The entire mentality of safety at all costs is costing our freedom.

Theory is gray, but the golden tree of life is green. -- Goethe

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