by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 29th 2011 8:34am
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 24th 2011 2:05pm
from the good-for-him dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 23rd 2010 10:15am
from the not-cool dept
(a) No person shall take still, motion or sound motion pictures or voice recordings on the facilities and airports under the jurisdiction of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (the "Authority") without written permission from the Authority's Executive Director or his or her designee.I'm having trouble seeing how this rule can possibly be legal -- especially with all the stories today of TSA agents abusing (or simply not understanding) the new rules. Recording the interactions with the TSA seems like an essential step in making sure that personal liberties are respected. Making that illegal raises all sorts of questions. And while this is specific to San Diego Airport, it makes me wonder if there are similar restrictions elsewhere.
(b) Filming of X-ray equipment located on the facilities and airports under the jurisdiction of the Authority is strictly prohibited. Any person(s) caught filming such X-ray equipment may have their film confiscated.
Just a few months ago, we pointed out how law enforcement and the courts were abusing wiretap laws to find people guilty of wiretapping for recording law enforcement in public places. Thankfully, some courts have pushed back on such cases, and it seems like this is a situation where declaring an outright ban on videotaping within the airport is a restriction that doesn't make any sense at all.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 15th 2010 11:49am
from the that'll-go-over-well dept
Of course, we've seen similar stories before. But where this one got even odder is that after he went to the ticket counter and was able to get his ticket refunded (even though it was a non-refundable ticket), he was approached by a man in a suit and two of the people who had both detained him in the security area and escorted him out of it -- and told that he could not leave the airport until he submitted to the invasive screening. If he tried to leave, he was told he would be sued and could face fines of $10,000:
At this point, I thought it was all over. I began to make my way to the stairs to exit the airport, when I was approached by another man in slacks and a sport coat. He was accompanied by the officer that had escorted me to the ticketing area and Mr. Silva. He informed me that I could not leave the airport. He said that once I start the screening in the secure area, I could not leave until it was completed. Having left the area, he stated, I would be subject to a civil suit and a $10,000 fine. I asked him if he was also going to fine the 6 TSA agents and the local police officer who escorted me from the secure area. After all, I did exactly what I was told. He said that they didn't know the rules, and that he would deal with them later. They would not be subject to civil penalties. I then pointed to Mr. Silva and asked if he would be subject to any penalties. He is the agents' supervisor, and he directed them to escort me out. The man informed me that Mr. Silva was new and he would not be subject to penalties, either. He again asserted the necessity that I return to the screening area. When I asked why, he explained that I may have an incendiary device and whether or not that was true needed to be determined. I told him that I would submit to a walk through the metal detector, but that was it; I would not be groped.With groups like EPIC and the ACLU fighting these machines, I'm guessing the guy has already been contacted by them and other such groups. The idea that buying a ticket and entering the screening area means you've agreed, no matter what -- even if you decide not to fly -- to go through an invasive screening process, seems like a pretty radical reading of the 4th Amendment that I'm sure some civil liberties groups would happily challenge.
You can listen to the audio of most of the encounter at the link above (there's video too, but it's mostly of the ceiling). Some have questioned why he was filming, and if he had set this up with a plan to get into a confrontation all along. You can see his explanation here which makes sense. He claims that he had checked online prior to flying and the TSA's website had said that San Diego Airport did not have the backscatter scanners, which is why he agreed to fly through there. Then, when he got to the security area, he chose a line that was a traditional metal scanner, rather than the backscatter lines. The person in front of him was told to go to the backscatter scanner, and after refusing he realized they might ask him to go instead, so he then turned on his camera, since he'd heard of numerous other incidents, and wanted a recording just in case. Throughout the experience he points out that 80% of the passengers are just going through the traditional metal detector, and he'd be fine if he could just use that same process, but they won't allow it.
It seems pretty clear that these new invasive scans and pat downs are going to end up in the courts. From my perspective, they certainly seem to go way beyond the "reasonable" standard, but who knows what the courts will say. That said, in this case, the security officials went way beyond even that level, by threatening to sue the guy for not consenting to go through with it, even after he had said he would no longer be flying.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 20th 2010 8:37am
from the security-theater dept
At that point, the TSA got upset, and a bunch of other folks got involved, including the airport police. He was detained, asked all sorts of questions (some he refused to answer), and not allowed to leave when he asked. At one point he was told he was free to leave, but then was stopped again and told he was not allowed to go until he spoke to one more person. The pilot, Michael Roberts, noted during his explanation of what happened that he's actually taught the TSA-mandated security training program at ExpressJet. The whole story is yet another example of security theater in action -- people just doing things because it's on the checklist, not because it makes anyone more secure.
"What do you mean I 'should know better'? Are you scolding me? Have I done something wrong?"
"I'm not saying you've done something wrong. But you have to go through security screening if you want to enter the facility."
"Understood. I've been going through security screening right here in this line for five years and never blown up an airplane, broken any laws, made any threats, or had a government agent call my boss in Houston. And you guys have never tried to touch me or see me naked that whole time. But, if that's what it's come to now, I don't want to enter the facility that badly."
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 11th 2010 9:49am
from the an-accidental-XP-virus dept
The answer? Well, it's all Microsoft's fault.
Apparently, there was a bit of a bug (one of many...) in Windows XP in terms of how it handles certain situations, and it effectively created a "virus" in that unwitting travelers around the globe are all broadcasting "Free Public WiFi" from their computers without realizing it, after they tried to connect to such a network:
When a computer running an older version of XP can't find any of its "favorite" wireless networks, it will automatically create an ad hoc network with the same name as the last one it connected to -- in this case, "Free Public WiFi." Other computers within range of that new ad hoc network can see it, luring other users to connect. And who can resist the word "free?"And so it continues to spread. No one's quite sure where it started, but somewhere way back when, someone set up such an ad hoc network in an airport (perhaps as a joke or a honeypot), and it got picked up by others... and then it just continued spreading. Eventually, it should die out as Windows XP machines finally go extinct, but for now, enjoy (but don't bother connecting) the "Free Public WiFi" found in so many airports...
Not a lot of people, judging from the spread of Free Public WiFi. Computers with the XP bug that try to connect to the Internet will remember the name, create their own ad hoc networks and entice other users wherever they go.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 5th 2010 6:35am
from the security-or-security-theater dept
I had seen the Toronto Star article when it came out, and it's definitely worth reading. It does appear that the Israelis are a lot more focused on security that works, rather than security theater -- though I don't think any security system is foolproof. I do think that there's a lot to what Sela says at the end of the article as to why the TSA hasn't followed Israel's lead:
"We have a saying in Hebrew that it's much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it's dark over there. That's exactly how (North American airport security officials) act," Sela said. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit -- technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."As for the question on "full body scans," while not mentioned in the article, it's worth noting that Israeli airport security apparently doesn't use such machines either. I saw an interview recently with an Israeli security expert, who said that using such machines (the ones that allow screeners to effectively see travelers naked) would create a much bigger mess, as traditional and religious men would become incredibly offended at screeners seeing their wives naked.
The key difference in the two systems is that the US (and most others) seem intent on scanning what you're bringing on the plane. The Israelis are a lot more interested in who you are and how you act.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 23rd 2008 6:28am
from the feel-safer? dept
Also worth noting is that this is the first time that the government has actually admitted how many people are on the no fly list (about 2,500) as well as the "selectee" list for extra careful searches (another 16,000). They also noted that it's quite rare for anyone on the no-fly list to actually try to fly (about once a month -- and it's almost always initiating in a foreign country). Of course, if you were actually a terrorist, would you fly under your real identity?
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 21st 2008 5:08am
from the don't-you-feel-safer-now? dept
Schneier, of course, has been making this point for years, so it was interesting to see what sort of response Goldberg was then able to get out of the TSA's boss, Kip Hawley. His responses seem to fall into one of two categories. First, he suggests that the TSA is well aware of the potential vulnerability described, but he can't really explain how it's been fixed, or secondly, he insists that any odd behavior will be spotted by trained employees and stopped. Except that Goldberg tested that theory too, attempting to behave quite strangely -- including ripping up a bunch of fake boarding passes in plain view of people... who all ignored him.
Hawley's responses at times border on incomprehensible:
"What do you do about vulnerabilities?" he asked, rhetorically. "All the time you hear reports and people saying, 'There's a vulnerability.' Well, duh. There are vulnerabilities everywhere, in everything. The question is not 'Is there a vulnerability?' It's 'What are you doing about it?'"Either there's some totally secret system that the TSA is using to actually stop these vulnerabilities, or there isn't a system and Hawley is just being confusing in order to create some doubt. I'm not sure either one makes me feel any safer about flying. While some may claim that we should feel safer because there might be a more secretive plan in place that Hawley won't talk about, consider me a skeptic. Security through obscurity has rarely proven to be as effective as a real and open security plan. I'm not saying that the TSA should reveal everything it does, but given Goldberg's experiences in "probing" the system, it's not clear that any "secret plan," whether real or implied, is working particularly well.
Well, what are you doing about it?
"There are vulnerabilities where you have limited ways to address it directly. So you have to put other layers around it, other things that will catch them when that vulnerability is breached. This is a universal problem. Somebody will identify a very small thing and drill down and say, 'I found a vulnerability.'"
by Timothy Lee
Fri, Nov 16th 2007 2:12pm