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Privacy International’s Award-Winning Stupidity Contest

Aug 01, 20032 mins

Privacy International rolled out its 2003 Stupid Security Contest for the most "pointless, intrusive and stupid security measures.

Anyone who has watched his grandmother’s flowered satchel subjected to intense scrutiny at the airport knows that security regulations are sometimes implemented in absurd ways. Recognizing these regulations as an area for ridicule, Privacy International rolled out its 2003 Stupid Security Contest. The U.K.-based privacy rights group received almost 5,000 nominations from 35 countries for the most “pointless, intrusive and stupid security measures.”

Here are some of the honorees.Most Flagrantly Intrusive AwardWinner: Delta Air Lines terminal at JFK Airport in New York City, where security personnel forced a nursing mother to drink three bottles of her own breast milk to prove they did not contain explosives.Most Egregiously Stupid AwardWinner: The Australian government for setting up a toll-free number for citizens to report suspicious activity without defining what such activity might look like.Most Inexplicably Stupid AwardWinner: Philadelphia International Airport for instituting a hazmat alert after a Saudi college student sprayed cologne on himself at a security checkpoint to demonstrate the contents of a bottle. A doughnut shop and a drugstore in Philadelphia were later quarantined by authorities after they were visited by two police officers who had been in contact with the cologne.

For more on privacy, read “Privacy’s New Image,” Page 50.