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Security Transportation United States

Speedier Screening May Be Coming To an Airport Near You 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the scan-me dept.
First time accepted submitter Rickarmstrong writes "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is pushing for private contractors to create a screening machine with 'screen and walk' capability for use at the nation's 160 international airports and thousands of federal facilities. The agency recently requested information from high-tech companies and other private firms about any new technology that can help speed up the security checkpoints managed by the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Protective Services."
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Speedier Screening May Be Coming To an Airport Near You

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  • More pork? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Terwin (412356) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:07AM (#46323809)

    It would be nice to think that they are attempting to address an obvious problem, but with the TSA, I suspect this is going to be just another opportunity to line the pockets of politically connected people...

    Question: if the lines got shorter, how would they gather an audience for their security theater?

    • Re:More pork? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by afidel (530433) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:13AM (#46323859)

      The obvious problem is with the existence of the TSA to begin with, but bureaucracy doesn't work to eliminate itself, only to grow and consume ever greater amounts of resources.

    • by dpilot (134227)

      One of them watched the old "Total Recall" with Arnie. Even though the movie was rated R they didn't take advantage of the obvious opportunity with their "walking screening device".

    • Re:More pork? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday February 24, 2014 @12:34PM (#46324659)
      I suspect they're more concerned with backlash. I mean, those long lines AREN'T filled with people who are glad TSA is doing their thing. I don't know what would make them think we've suddenly grown spines after all this time and are going to demand the TSA be abolished. We've swallowed the bullshit about it being essential for security for many times longer than I would think would be needed to make it seem like normal and acceptable to most people. But maybe TSA is privy to data on how frustrated people are by their bullshit, and is worried some congressman will start saying it needs to be cut to save on taxes. There are grumblings evidently about shrinking the military, that's something I didn't expect to hear anytime soon.
    • by BobMcD (601576)

      I too suspect the motive is misplaced, but I'm assuming they're looking for a street-viable implementation and are willing to use the airports as a test bed.

      Look at the requirements - they want to scan through leather jackets. Couldn't the airport just insist you send those through with your baggage?

      The specs call for very little crowd participation.

  • For a small fee you can pay a company to allow you to skip the line of people waiting to be scanned. This allows you to walk up directly to the screening section rather than wait 30 to 45 minutes in line with the masses. Capitalism at its best. /sarcasm

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GigsVT (208848)

      Ignoring the general stupidity of many TSA practices, and that this is an artificial market created by government inefficiency, what's so fundamentally wrong with paying more to get through faster?

      If your money is worth more than your time, you'll wait, if your time is worth more than your money, you'll pay. That's a fundamental decision every time you say something like "I'll pay someone to change my oil because I don't want to spend 20 minutes and get dirty doing it myself", or "I'll eat out so I don't h

      • by jxander (2605655) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:46AM (#46324163)

        I think the problem is that we've created artificial supply and demand.

        Now if you'll just bend over, I need to insert this probe for national security reasons. Or you could pay me $20 and I'll find someone else.

        • by tsqr (808554)

          I think the problem is that we've created artificial supply and demand.

          They don't let anyone avoid security screening merely in exchange for money. "Fast-track" passengers pay for the privilege, but also go through a security vetting process to be eligible. That's different from paying to skip a long line, which is no more artificial than this: "Here, sit in this cramped seat with no leg room surrounded by screaming babies for the next 12 hours. Or, you can pay $$$ for a first-class seat, and I'll find someone else to put back here in Economy."

          • by jxander (2605655)

            They don't let anyone avoid security screening merely in exchange for money. "Fast-track" passengers pay for the privilege, but also go through a security vetting process to be eligible. That's different from paying to skip a long line, which is no more artificial than this: "Here, sit in this cramped seat with no leg room surrounded by screaming babies for the next 12 hours. Or, you can pay $$$ for a first-class seat, and I'll find someone else to put back here in Economy."

            They don't let you skip the security scan, but they let you pay money to skip standing around in a needlessly long line. That's the artificial creation, the wait. They've made the scanning process much MUCH longer than it has to be. "Please take out any laptops, and any liquids and your shes and ... now step aside for enhanced screening and now put everything back on... "

            Paying to upgrade to a first class seat makes more sense. There is only so much space in a plane. So if you want more space, you'll

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        Ignoring the general stupidity of many TSA practices, and that this is an artificial market created by government inefficiency,

        That is the whole point. And while I understand the time/money trade off, what I object to is that this market shouldn't exists in the first place.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Infiniti2000 (1720222)
          I agree and would further suggest that it's a form of legalized racketeering. In effect, the system created an inefficient process (racket) and then is attempting to charge us for speeding things up. How this isn't racketeering is beyond me.
          • Well, there is a long and boring reason why government agencies doing this isn't racketeering. You see....

            *points behind you* TERRORIST!!!! *ducks out of nearby window when you look away*

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        Ignoring the general stupidity of many TSA practices, and that this is an artificial market created by government inefficiency, what's so fundamentally wrong with paying more to get through faster?

        Forgot to add that this system doesn't scale. If a larger number of people decide that time is money, then the skipping line will get congested and we'll all be back in the same boat again.

        The true solution for congestion is to either speed processing or increase the number of processing lanes. Everything else is just a money grab

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          The true answer is to allow people to get through a full background check in exchange for skipping the screening process entirely. Frequent travelers (the majority) would do so, and this would cut the number of people waiting in line to almost nothing.

          But they won't do that, because the TSA is primarily a jobs program, not a security screening service.

          • by lgw (121541)

            You do realize they more-or-less do that now [tsa.gov], right?

            • Except when they deny you without telling you why, with no real appeal process, because you can't JUST get pre-check, you have to get one of the other certifications instead. The most common one is Global Entry, which allows expedited customs. Have you ever forgotten to declare something small coming back into the country and they find it (even if it's not prohibited)? Then you're permanently banned from this program. Ever had someone ship you something from overseas and accidentally misdeclare customs (out

              • by lgw (121541)

                Well, you don't need Global Entry, there's a program that just takes a criminal background check [tsa.gov] (but doesn't help with international travel). You just need a Known Traveler Number. So unless your "failure to declare" was actually felony smuggling, you should be good. Assuming, of course, that there's not someone with a similar-sounding name on the arbitraty No Fly List.

          • by tsqr (808554)

            The true answer is to allow people to get through a full background check in exchange for skipping the screening process entirely. Frequent travelers (the majority) would do so, and this would cut the number of people waiting in line to almost nothing.

            But they won't do that, because the TSA is primarily a jobs program, not a security screening service.

            Well, as a matter of fact, the process you propose has been in use for over a year [cnn.com] at a few airports and airlines, and is expanding [huffingtonpost.com].

            • by dgatwood (11270)

              Well, as a matter of fact, the process you propose has been in use for over a year ...

              No, it hasn't. My parents have gone through security as "TSA Pre" travelers. There's remarkably little difference between that and normal travel, from what I've seen, and at most, no more difference than the difference between buying a first-class ticket and a coach ticket (separate line). Yes, in theory, you have to do a few less things, but you still get in line, stick your bag on a belt, walk through a magnetometer o

        • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

          true. it will all become just another tax.

          maybe they'll end up charging you based on how long you want to wait in line. once people are sorted into 15 mins / 30 mins / 1 hr lines, they'll dynamically reallocate resources to make sure all lines move as planned.

          Oh yeah, they can/will also charge depending by destination. If you're flying SF->LA and miss you're flight, you're out $100, but if you're flying SF->Sydney and miss your flight, that's $1000 at least. I imagine you would be willing to pay a lot

      • Time/money/value decisions are something you make dozens of every day.

        Exactly. As noted in the movie Volunteers [wikipedia.org]

        • Chung Mee: Speed is important in business. Time is money.
        • Lawrence Bourne III: You said opium was money.
        • Chung Mee: Money is money.
        • Lawrence Bourne III: Well then, what is time again?
      • Perverse incentive. If people can pay money to skip the lines, then longer lines are good for profit.

        Much like ISPs: If your $40/month package is good enough for everyday use, a bit of gaming, netflix and the occasional torrent, who is going to pay for the $100/month package? The obvious solution is to make sure the $40/month package is sufficiently rubbish that anyone who can afford to pay more will do so.

        • In Canada this isn't true (used to be until TPIA providers became a real threat to the big providers. Now it is structured to be more around upload usage, and bandwidth. http://www.start.ca/services/highspeed Very decent pricing structure. THe $40 pacakage really does work for 99% of people. But there are people who want the faster speeds/more bandwidth.
    • What company is that? I signed up for Global Entry (I travel internationally a dozen or more times a year), and got a free TSAPre account as well - meaning I can use the short lines. But only because I went through a full Government background check.
      • by OzPeter (195038)

        What company is that?

        It is CLEAR. It effectively allows you to skip the part where the TSA agent looks at your id and and ticket and agrees that you are who you are.

        • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

          Once my line was super backed up so they shunted me through the CLEAR line. I went to take off my belt and shoes but they shrugged and just motioned me through. Nice security you got there. ATL for those who keep track.

        • Interesting. Seems to be a kiosk that works like Global Entry - and based upon the application cost and information, this appears to be an addition to TSAPre which you can already get. It's a private company working in addition to TSA, not replacing the TSA.
      • by Idbar (1034346)

        I don't know if people receive background checks when they belong to "elite" airline miles programs. But many first class and other people in those programs for sure can go through the fast line.

        • Well, there can be multiple lines. I'm elite with Alaska Air and Delta. Prior to Global Entry/TSA Pre, I could use their shorter "business/elite" line. It short-circuited the long line to check your ID - but you still had the full "remove everything/millimeter scanner" search. With TSA Pre, not only do you get the shorter ID check line, you also get relaxed security screening. No removal of shoes and belts or thin coats, no need to pull the laptops out of the bag. Basically back to how it as pre-9/11.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    A friend of those in government wants some money and the government is calling out for a product which comes mysteriously close to some useless device which said friend is about to sell.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:09AM (#46323833) Homepage Journal

    This is the first tech I've heard of that actually leads me to believe it might cover a real security hole. In this case, the grab a couple semi-automatics and gun down the crowds waiting to get through security hole.

    • by swb (14022) on Monday February 24, 2014 @12:19PM (#46324505)

      The question I have is, why hasn't this happened?

      If you accept the argument that terrorists principal goal is to create, well, terror, then you would expect terror attacks with the only real goal of creating chaos and news.

      Given the chaos and headlines created at the mall in Kenya or the hotel in India, you would expect something like that to happen in the US. It's not hard to get ahold of guns, there are presumably a fair number of motivated attackers, and there are plenty of targets available.

      As an example, coordinated attacks on 3-4 shopping malls simultaneously would be in the news forever and probably have a non-trivial economic impact from people avoiding malls alone, let alone the expected costs of all the security you'd expect to be demanded/added.

      Either security is that good or the actual threat just isn't there. I find the former hard to believe.

      • TSA's screening gates are far from the only things done to increase security. If you sell the public on the idea that terrorists are out to kill them and that massive spending to your friends is the only way to keep them safe, then you'd better actually do some things to discourage terrorist attacks.

        I'd guess that the biggest change was that we hunted the terrorists. I don't want to know how many billions we spend per al-qaeda member killed, but even with such a poor exchange rate, we've spent an insan
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The threat isn't there. Most of the potential terrorists have realized just how futile such things are now. They look at 9/11 and 7/7 and see that if anything it just made things worse for Muslims. Much better to go off and fight somewhere like Syria or Afghanistan where they can make more of a difference.

  • ...simply remove all of the screening apparatus in the airports. It is vastly just "security theatre" and does nothing but costs taxpayers time, money, and aggravation. To say nothing of the of the decline in tourism and business dollars due to the obtrusiveness.

    Oh, yeah, and the total violation of basic human rights and decency with that large, gaping wound it leaves in the 4th Amendment (among others).

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:23AM (#46323961) Homepage Journal

      How about just going back to a reasonable quick scan on the way to the plane? The whole premise was that anything you could get through such a scan was worthless. Along the way we found out that you needed locking, reinforced cockpit doors in the bargain, and now we have those. Why not just go back to x-raying luggage, and maybe run the humans past the explosives sniffer? Non-invasive screening of humans seems fairly reasonable. I wouldn't want to let people on my multi-million-dollar aircraft without it, if I had one :p

      • Why not return to the pre-9/11 security?

        Because that would eradicate 90% of the TSA bureaucracy.

        Because then there would be no need for all those expensive and ineffective machines, and how would the politicians get their kickbacks?

        Because long lines must mean that the government is doing SOMETHING good to provide security, giving its citizens a nice warm fuzzy feeling, even if its actual effectiveness is unsubstantiated.

        And because then people might get the idea that they have the right not to be run rough

        • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:47AM (#46324179) Journal

          Why not return to the pre-9/11 security?

          Because that would eradicate 90% of the TSA bureaucracy.

          The inside joke is that the TSA is simply an employment program for the Federal Government. It's about hiring hundreds of people at all the big airports. It's not about security (it may have started with that intent, but no longer) - it's a jobs program, pure and simple.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            It's not about security (it may have started with that intent, but no longer) - it's a jobs program, pure and simple.

            Bro, do you even government? Nothing is ever that simple. There are always at least two goals. In this case, there's the jobs program, and there's also the erosion of those inconvenient civil liberties.

          • Why not return to the pre-9/11 security?

            Because that would eradicate 90% of the TSA bureaucracy.

            The inside joke is that the TSA is simply an employment program for the Federal Government. It's about hiring hundreds of people at all the big airports. It's not about security (it may have started with that intent, but no longer) - it's a jobs program, pure and simple.

            Inside joke? I'm on the outside and it's painfully apparent to me how the utterly unemployable (and only them) land jobs in positions at the TSA, the DMV, or some other state-run shithole designed to make my life a living hell.

      • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:41AM (#46324095) Journal

        How about just going back to a reasonable quick scan on the way to the plane? The whole premise was that anything you could get through such a scan was worthless.

        Yeah, but then how would they be able to justify forcing people to throw away their bottles of water, shampoo, etc.? "That might be a bomb, throw it in that trash can over there!"

        I went to SF for a conference, and bought a snow globe for my in-laws, as is my habit when I travel. They wouldn't let me take it because it could contain "bomb making materials", which is ludicrous. They told me I could either surrender the package, or go to the post office to mail it. If I went to the post office, I'd miss my flight and it was a $4 snow globe, so I told them I'd surrender it. I was highly frustrated and busy putting my stuff together that they had pulled apart, so I was too distracted to notice that they kept not just the snow globe, but the bag that had all of the other souvenirs I had bought, including t-shirts and Ghirardelli chocolates I got for the rest of my family. The TSA is a pack of thieving, security-theater perverts. [politico.com]

        • by Sir Holo (531007)
          Any time the TSA insists that I surrender an item, I first insist on rendering it useless (value-less).

          For example, I use expensive, specialized tweezers in my work, for which I must travel. Not knives—tweezers. On the occasions where the TSA wants to take them, I first destroy them (wrench them apart), so that they cease to have any value. I don't like thieves.
      • by mjwx (966435)

        How about just going back to a reasonable quick scan on the way to the plane? The whole premise was that anything you could get through such a scan was worthless. Along the way we found out that you needed locking, reinforced cockpit doors in the bargain, and now we have those. Why not just go back to x-raying luggage, and maybe run the humans past the explosives sniffer? Non-invasive screening of humans seems fairly reasonable. I wouldn't want to let people on my multi-million-dollar aircraft without it, if I had one :p

        It sounds like you've travelled through a decent airport.

        One of the fastest international airports I've ever gotten through was KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) in Malaysia. I was running late due to a delay on a previous leg on a different airline, I managed to get checked in, through immigration and security and to the gate in less than 30 minutes. KLIA is not a rare example either, Changi Aiport (Singapore) is the same. Both KLIA and Changi have security at the gate, this is just a simple X-R

  • by RealGene (1025017) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:17AM (#46323899)
    Really, putting a locks on cockpit doors was just about the right response.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

      Really, putting a locks on cockpit doors was just about the right response.

      How do cockpit doors achieve behavioral compliance conditioning?

    • There are actually other things they should do but that costs more money and it's easier to put security theater into play than actually dealing with the problem. You could get more effective use of just good metal detectors and a few trained dogs with handlers than all this BS that they've put us through, especially since underwear boy set himself on fire. The whole liquids thing was because of a "credible threat" that never panned out. Taking your shoes off was the whole Reid affair. [wikipedia.org] Honestly I think

      • There are actually other things they should do

        Nope. Get these worthless, immoral government thugs out of airports; the end.

        • by Virtucon (127420)

          There are actually other things they should do

          Nope. Get these worthless, immoral government thugs out of airports; the end.

          Who says I was talking about the government?

    • by houghi (78078)

      That would be good for airplane security. Howver useless for screening and random searches. No, I do not have a alu foil hat. This has NOTHING to do with security in any way. Not even security theater.
      Note the [...]pushing for private contractors[...] part? Just giving the private sector some business and securing their pension when they get a new job at said companies after they leave the curent function.

  • They will start giving the TSA goons a couple hits of meth before going on-shift?

  • Total Recall? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RockClimbingFool (692426) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:19AM (#46323911)
    Are they asking for proposals for the scanner from Total Recall?
  • So they are finally thinking about creating a system like in the first Total Recall movie? Granted their are technological challenges, but why didn't they push for something like this before?
    • but why didn't they push for something like this before?

      Because there wasn't deemed to be a need for it (especially if you go back about 13 years), and/or it wasn't worth the effort. Both are arguably still the case.

  • by GigsVT (208848) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:29AM (#46324011) Journal

    I was once at an airport, I think it was LAS... people were all piled up in a clusterfuck right after of the entrance to TSA where they check IDs, even though there was about a mile of Disneyland spiral queue that was not being used. A helpful TSA agent started to open up the spiral queue, and was actually rebuked by a superior because "that's not the way they do things", and everyone that went in the queue had to rejoin the mosh pit of people.

    And then they closed two of the four open screening lanes because "it wasn't busy enough to justify having that many open". We had to literally jog across the airport to catch our flight after being stuck in that mess for 50+ minutes.

    I'm not sure it would take new technology to fix the TSA, just some people running the show that don't have their head up their ass.

    • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

      >I'm not sure it would take new technology to fix the TSA, just some people running the show that don't have their head up their ass.

      niether, because the technology will be chosen and operated by people with heads up their asses

  • by jratcliffe (208809) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:36AM (#46324069)

    How about all those metal detectors they already have.

    1. Shut down the body scanners
    2. Drop all the silly ID checking
    3. Everyone goes through a metal detector
    4. Luggage goes through an x-ray machine, looking only for weapons or explosives.

    No weapons or explosives? On you go.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      How about all those metal detectors they already have.

      1. Shut down the body scanners
      2. Drop all the silly ID checking
      3. Everyone goes through a metal detector
      4. Luggage goes through an x-ray machine, looking only for weapons or explosives.

      No weapons or explosives? On you go.

      To be fair, there are other items that should not fly.

      Corrosives, flammables, even organics in some cases. One of the biggest problems customs inspectors in Australia is the movement of plant and animal material that may contain pests between Australian states.

      As for an ID check, well checking boarding passes is a good idea... So if I have to show my license or passport at the same time it's no trouble. A simple ID check prevent some low life from taking off with my boarding pass (well not mine, but

  • My prediction, 1rst bid: $48 billion for a prototype, expect that to triple in the first year.
  • It's called a metal detector.
  • I have no issue with security checks...nor to pat downs (of which I have had a few hundred, as I've opted out for years now). I have a *huge* issue with the expectation (tragically routinely met on a day-to-day basis) that people blithely consent to what amounts to a strip search without probable cause in order to board a plane. IAAA, and the 4th Amendment *should* mean something to people. Fear and dogma drove the adaptation of a technology that offers absolutely *no* substantive safeguard, costs a stunnin

  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth&5-cent,us> on Monday February 24, 2014 @01:00PM (#46325001) Homepage

    Right, like the ones that everyone hated, caused cancers in some TSA personnel (unadmitted by the TSA), and were pretty useless, since over and over, people demonstrated that they could smuggle weapons past them? And that are now retired, after tens of millions of tax dollars wasted on them?

    Or like the new submillimeter machines, which have close to the same problems, that it's been demonstrated that you can smuggle weapons past them?

    Here's a better way to spend money: fire all the managers and execs, and bring in some professional security managers. Ones that will, for example, come down like a ton of bricks on the screeners who do extra screening on good looking women, or pull vibrators or other sex toys out for their "amusement" value?

    Go look at the archives from , by a guy who just quit the TSA after some years, and all what really happens back there.

    Oh, and the boxcutters that the 9/11 hijackers were supposed to have had were *ILLEGAL* and should have been found before all this crap.

    Keep the TSA on the job, guys, the terrorists have won, completely. America, the home of the cowards and the unfree.

                          mark

    • I for one think box cutters should be legal. Just watch somebody try to pull some shit with a box cutter today.

  • Just make a machine that does "Ping!" and be done with it.

    I used to work in a lab with nitric acid and azides and those nice sniffer dogs and complicated explosive-detection machines (that puff air at you) never detected anything. Even though I probably had more materials indistinguishable from explosives on my clothes than an average terrorist.

    Then once I tried replacing an auxiliary laptop battery with clay. Nothing from those X-Ray scanners as well.
  • They are going back to letting us leave our shoes on, our laptops in our bags, and using simple metal detectors?

  • Thank goodness. I thought it would be something along the lines of not changing latex gloves between passengers.

  • Talk about a content-free article. The TSA wants industry to produce a scanner that can detect explosives unobtrusively without slowing down traffic. Well, duh. Of course they want that. And if anyone knew how to make one they would have already. The headline may as well read, "Gold Coin Giveaways May Be Coming To An Airport Near Your" based on the TSA asking for a leprechaun to produce his pot-o-gold. It's about as realistic.

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