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Ban the Scan & Stop Gov’t Sanctioned Molestation by TSA

Jun 08, 20114 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

On Friday, June 10, if you live in or will be near New York City, why not head over to Union Square at 4:30 pm and join other like-minded people who want the controversial TSA naked image scanners to be banned. I enjoyed this image on RaquelOkyay with the words Stop Government Sanctioned Molestation. This Ban the Scan Rally will be co-hosted by “Manhattan Libertarian Party, We Won’t Fly, Campaign for Liberty and NYC LAG” to “promote legislation currently being drafted by the New York City Council to eliminate TSA body scanners and pat-downs from NYC.”

I was all excited for Texas when it was planning to ban groping by TSA agents and make it illegal to touch anyone’s junk, but then that seemed to fall through when the feds threatened to shut down Texas airports. Not being an attorney and all, the feds’ threat struck me as illegal. In fact, I’d like to see the government try to shut down all flights in and out of Texas. I really don’t think it would stand up and last, if it even went that far as to be carried out as more than a threat. But now, there is a chance that all may not be lost for the Texas legislation. Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst wrote to Gov. Rick Perry, requesting for the anti-groping bill to be called into a special session. If the don’t-grope-me bill passes, it would be a misdemeanor crime and TSA agents could be fined $4,000, and possibly spend up to one year in jail for basically doing their government-sanctioned molestation jobs. According to the Digital Journal, the TSA doesn’t seem very worried. If Texas can get this passed and basically kick the TSA out of their state, hopefully other states will follow.

The Lone Star State has some huge airports that lots of people depend upon. It doesn’t seem reasonable that airlines would take the closing of so many major airports in stride. It’s not like airline profits are up. In fact, the International Air Transport Association dropped its 2011 net profit forecast to $4 billion, down more than half from the previous $8.6 billion forecast made in March.

Meanwhile, in the Homeland Security bill approved last week, the House Republicans slashed $270 million from TSA’s 2012 budget. $76 million was supposed to go toward 275 more “ineffective” airport body scanners. If it’s also approved by the Senate, supposedly DHS will have to lay off 10% of its TSA screeners. This may be yet another type of threat, since cutting screeners would theoretically mean longer lines at airports.

According to the Los Angeles Times, TSA has been targeted by lawmakers due to two decisions made by TSA chief John Pistole. I previously reported on this bill and Rep. John Mica telling airports that they could legally opt-out and kick the TSA program to the curb by choosing to hire private airport screeners. But in January, in yet another move that non-lawyer-types might find ethically and legally questionable, Pistole changed the rules and said no one else could get rid of the TSA; he only allowed the 16 airports that had already opted for private screeners to stay out of the TSA program.

That seemed to tick off Rep. Mica and last week he released an investigative report [PDF version] comparing San Francisco International Airport private screening contractors and Los Angeles International Airport TSA screeners. At SFO, where private screeners are used, screening costs about $2.42 per passenger. At LAX, using TSA airport screeners, the cost is about $4.22 per passenger. No doubt, Pistole will come back with something such as the report doesn’t say which airport is safer. To me, it seems to say private airport screening is nearly half the cost of TSA security theater. So come on Texas, pass the anti-groping bill! Like it or not, there is a bill saying airports do not have to use TSA for screeners.

Don’t forget the Ban the Scan Rally NYC!

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.