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back to article TSA to pull backscatter perv scanners from US airports

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that it is pulling all full-body scanners based on backscatter X-ray technology from US airports. In a terse statement issued on Thursday, the agency said it had terminated its contract with Rapiscan, the maker of the controversial scanners, because the company …

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Pint

Rapistscan, we barely knew ye.

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Ah yes,

but they knew us all too well.

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Meh

For frequent flyers it

Probably sterilises men with the X-rays and increases risk of testicular cancer and promotes and increases breast cancer in women.

So to cover this up they are withdrawing the units. Every other excuse is jut a lie.

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Anonymous Coward

In the UK

They will carry on with these until a Parlimentary Investigation in 2050 finds they have contributed to damaging the health of many people where it will be found that just one dose causes long term cell damage in children.

Finally in 2070 compensation will be paid out to the scanner survivors trust.

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These scanner should never have been installed

If any of the security agencies in US and the West bothered to see how Israeli security services, who have decades of counter-terrorism experience, do it, - these scanner would've never been installed. Moreover, our security would look less like theater and more like an actual security. Of course that would also jeopardize kickbacks from multibillion dollar contracts.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/744199---israelification-high-security-little-bother

A few years back (but after 9/11) I flew with El Al and we got metal knifes and forks with our food! And no, that doesn't jeopardize security of the aircraft in any way if you think about it.

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Re: In the UK @AC 07:51

The UK doesn't used BackScatter, just the safe MM Wave tech, I recently checked incase they did before leaving, I certainly don't want a mandatory bath in X-Rays before boarding a plane to be bombarded by more ionising radiation!

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Devil

But... but...

What ever happened to the cavity searches...

"The elbow length glove or the should length glove sir?"

Damn I miss them.

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Re: These scanner should never have been installed

If you pay a little closer attention, you will also note that Israel has very few sanctioned points of entry. With that in mind, it's easy to concentrate your security resources. The USA, OTOH, has numerous points of entry, many of which are very, VERY busy. To employ Israel's style of security on ALL those points of entry (to say nothing of the thousands of miles of coastline and open borders) would probably compare unfavorably with the US Defense budget (already bigger than the next 10-12 countries combined, including China).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In the UK @AC 07:51

no, no, you got it all wrong! ;) It's BackScatter that is safe. Or was claimed to be safe, when it was seen appropriate to make such assurances.

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Re: These scanner should never have been installed

@Charles9 - One of the main reasons for security theater combined with enormous queues in the US is that pols keep pressing for more to be done but not willing to give the funding. There would be no problem at all to have Ben-Gurion airport-style checks at every single US airport large enough to handle commercial passenger jets, IF the funding and trsining was sanctioned, and it would be just a drop from the Pentagon budget bucket.

But the US seems to prefer to spend the money to provide SWAT teams and armoured personnel carriers to sleepy rural villages, and to develop weapons systems that are completely unnecessary because their current arsenal is already 10 times as big as that of the next biggest militaries (most of which are US allies anyway)

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Re: But... but...

"What ever happened to the cavity searches..."

The perv scanners still can't pick up on anyone hiding a stick of dynamite up their hoop.

But then, neither option will pick up something akin to the Joker's "one phone call" in The Dark Knight.

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Happy

Re: For frequent flyers it

All frequent flyers should note that the (cosmic and solar) radiation dose from hours at 40,000ft considerably exceeds the radiation dose from a scanner. So those who are paranoid about radiation shouldn't fly frequently, if at all. BTW airlines avoid flying too close to the Earth's magnetic poles, not because it screws up compass navigation (which they don't routinely use these days), but because the radiation levels are far higher there than elsewhere during a solar storm.

The fact that aircrew don't have notably higher levels of illnesses that can be induced by radiation leads me to the conclusion that there is no significant risk to any passenger, even a frequent flyer.

There's also some research that suggests that low ionising radiation doses may be *better* for one's health than *very* low doses. Our immune systems may be evolved to deal with radiation up to the upper reaches of naturally-occurring levels (for example life above a naturally radioactive granite bedrock). It's hard to actually prove, since the statistical signals are very weak.

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It's the Health Issue

>Privacy hasn't been the only concern over backscatter scanners. In December, the TSA reluctantly agreed to

> conduct a new investigation into whether the technology might pose any health risks.

Exactly. These machine were deployed during a panicked reaction, their safety was never fully understood, and since that time have been slowly withdrawn starting with the busiest (or well-connected) airports.

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WTF?

Deepak Chopra is CEO of OSI Systems? I suppose it's a change from writing New Age self help books.

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Facepalm

Hey! That's my line!

Missed it by that much.

For those who missed it entirely: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepak_Chopra

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Alien

Presumably not /that/ Deepak Chopra...

... because his airport scanners would involve dousing rods and chanting.

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Devil

"Quantum healing" indeed.

Although the leap from self-help silliness to security theater is not so vast as one might suppose.

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wow!

They really called those things rapey-scans? (that's how I'd pronounce it, anyhow).

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Re: wow!

Gah! Enough with the downvotes. I get it. I know, it's something I'll have to take up with my the- rapist.

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Re: wow!

I'm not certain that helped

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Coat

Sadly I think the endeavor cost the tax payers more than a few pints.

Mines the one with the lead lining

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Anonymous Coward

"As we continue that relationship, we look forward to continuing to provide leading-edge technologies and services to the TSA."

Not that much leading edge or the contract wouldn't have been canceled.

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The problem isn't with the technology, it's with prudish Americans.

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Meh

Us silly Americans, not wanting to get ogled in the nude by people who couldn't get picked to be real policemen.

That's not prudishness, that's taste. I have no desire to be naked in front of anyone I wouldn't have in my car, certainly not a government clerk.

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Joke

Is the opposite also true?

Does that mean you get naked for anyone that does get in your car?

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Stop

I fixed the problem last year by taking my children to disneyland Tokyo instead of florida. Was a much better experience I imagine. Flight was fantastic, no silly "special treatment" or double scanning queues (unlike the last time I visited usa) airport was a breeze and transfers polite. Even the budget hotel was good.

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Meh

Apparently, according to a New York Post story, a number of large (body size) American Ladies have decided to start a class action against the use of Airport Scanners. They feel they have been discriminated against in that all the pretty and slim women are directed through the scanner, on occasion several times in succession for the benefit of the operators who claim spurious reading. The larger ladies are inevitable directed through the manual pat down.

Airport security spokesman claimed 'Unfortunately with some of the larger ladies the X-ray is not able to penetrate under their skin folds'. He also denied claims that in one serious incident a larger lady got stuck passing through the scanner. He also denied it was policy that slim pretty women are made to pass through the scanner several times before being cleared though it did appear in some cases this may have inadvertently happened due to 'spurious readings'.

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Joke

Re: Is the opposite also true?

You don't? That's common courtesy up here in the Midwest.

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Meh

Re: Is the opposite also true?

As I'm basically a nudist its pretty much my discretion.

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Big Brother

Re: Is the opposite also true?

We're all nudists in front of the TSA. I wonder how they would react if we did try going through naked? Actually, I don't, it would end in a tasering.

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I hope our local airport keeps theirs. I know they are unpopular (and support them only being voluntary) but as long as they keep us safe (which includes not harming our health, which is currently being looked at) and speed up those ridiculous lines I am ok with them. They make a huge difference in wait times and the TSA bods at the scanners said they make it a lot easier to spot things.

I would love to know once and for all about the possible health impacts and for them to remain optional. Unpopular views I know but damn I hate those huge lines. I absolutely love the new e-gates at some of the UK airports. 4-5 minutes to get through customs? I'll take that over 90 minutes at LAX. Throw in plenty of perv scanners and security might get to the same point. Flying might end up as less of a ballache!

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Trollface

On the other side of the coin....

If some of the health concerns are accurate, those scanners might actually be making flying more of a ballache...

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Re: On the other side of the coin....

I agree completely. I think we do need to figure out how valid any health concerns are and we need to ensure that there is no way they become mandatory (I am fully aware this could be the thin end of the wedge). People sure do hate them though!

Flying 15 years ago was significantly easier, far more laid back. It would be nice to get some of that back!

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@Rampant Spaniel

>>but as long as they keep us safe (which includes not harming our health, which is currently being looked at) and speed up those ridiculous lines I am ok with them. They make a huge difference in wait times<<

Actually, all the new security makes you less safe. Just take one look at the queues at an airport, and think about what would happen if some suicide vest wearing bombers in theory 'sploded themselves into the arms of those mythical virgins waiting for them in heaven/hell(depends on your experience with virgins I guess).

And remember, that's before they go through security.

Real security still takes real humans, and we rely on minimum wage chimps most of the time.

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Enough of those scanners ......

and you may have no functional balls to ache :-(

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Anonymous Coward

I would love to know once and for all about the possible health impacts and for them to remain optional

I have a sneaking suspicion the health impact *IS* known, it's just kept as data protected because t involves National Security. Once the scanners have gone it only takes a few years to then disavow any negative effects.

It's a theory, of course, but given that safety tests have always been pooh-poohed I find the timing *interesting*.

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@Rampant Spaniel

If it was millimetre wave and the ATR software had been used in the first place, no-one would've had a problem.

Flight crews detest the scanners because they are already at risk of radiation due to the function of their jobs, so getting nuked by more for 'security' is a genuine concern. MMW scanners are safer.

As for the rest of the public, it's the fact that the image was so high-res that you could practically see everything that people objected to. And yes, even if TSA claimed that there was no way an image could be saved/copied, cellphones have cameras these days, and that's all that needs saying. I saw a high-res scan of someone recently (who posted it themselves after having one done with the same kind of backscatter tech used by Rapidscan), and it is true that you can see virtually every wrinkle. I wouldn't want to be virtually undressed either. An outline as mandated for the ATR retrofit is more than sufficient to show where a potential threat may be located on a person's body. It's just common decency.

That said, such scans, done with the correct technology and shown in a way that assists security as much as it addresses 'privacy' concerns, are welcome by anyone.

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Anonymous Coward

@Rampant Spaniel,

The TSA makes us less safe. At best, the TSA is reactive. The body scanners were put into place because of incidents that happened on international flights that were coming to the US. The TSA does not have any control in how the screening process is done. You are also have lowly paid people doing the job the security? Search Google and see that some of these people in charge of our safety have been charged with criminal acts. They have released those images from the scanners, etc. Why should *we* trust them? They have not earned our trust but have earned our distrust.

The real method of security, they need to do more behind the scenes and not out front. I have over 1 million traveled miles, so if they want to speed the queues up, then they need to learn how to trust seasoned travelers. If I were going to do something, wouldn't that have already occurred? Do they really think that a terrorist group would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on tickets (which they need to travel on as well) and spends years doing it to perform a terrorist act? That is a longterm process and it would be far easier for them to buy a TSA agent off or some other airport employee. If it comes to sneaking something in like a liquid, gel or a somewhat solid, well that can be done by following the TSA guidelines. The TSA gives the illusion of security without actually providing any of it.

The fact is, the TSA has never actually caught a terrorist. Actually they have, it was when they caught one of their own in a criminal act.

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The future is NOW

Dear heavens, Senor Spaniel seems to be missing wide swathes of the point!

A) The X-Ray scanners are banned in the EU because of health concerns, which are echoed/instigated by American cancer doctors.

B) If your airport has an X-Ray scanner, it won't keep it, for the reasons mentioned throughout the article.

C) Not all scanners use X-Rays. If it says "L-3" in large letters, it doesn't, and will stay. If it looks like two blue boxes, and says "Rapiscan", it does, and will go, being REPLACED by the L-3 version.

D) The scanners are the cause of the lines, not the solution to it, and the only "optional" aspect of them is whether you opt-out and undergo longer manual grope-searches.

E) If you want something less that 90 minutes at LAX, join Global Entry. It gets you through customs & Immigration in your 4-5 minutes at every US airport.

F) Having joined Global Entry, if you travel enough you may qualify for TSA's Pre-Check program, which gets you through security like it's 1999 again (keep your shoes on, computer in the bag, etc.).

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Security Theater

I hope our local airport keeps theirs. I know they are unpopular (and support them only being voluntary) but as long as they keep us safe

They dont. That is the fundamental problem. All that cost (money, effort, resources, health) for no benefit.

My magic anti-terrorist rock keeps you just as safe as the scanners and it costs you nothing, doesnt risk your health and doesnt allow strangers to peer underneath your clothes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Security Theater

but you can't take that rock on board with you, due to its sharp edges. The box to dispose of lucky rocks with sharp edges is past the box with lucky rocks deemed to be heavy enough to wreck the engine, which you might insert into the above engine while strolling across 3 miles of tarmac to board your easyjet flight, Sir.

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FAIL

You should probably fact check that.

9/11 was caused by flights originating in the USA, it's one of the reasons the planes still had so much fuel aboard when they hit. If those planes had started their flights outside the USA, they would have had very little fuel left.

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Poe's law?

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Now the next step:

Get rid of the silly TSA. After all it is only security theater. Expensive security theater at that!

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All I can say is ...

I'm glad I haven't had to fly outside the range of my personal aircraft since the advent to the TSA's federally mandated molestation stations. That shit is completely ridiculous, not necessary, unneeded, and a waste of tax-payers money. As is the entire concept of the completely daft "department of homeland security" boondoggle.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty." --Ben Franklin

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Big Brother

Re: All I can say is ...

Exactly!! I flew to New York last year with parents to visit family i hadn't seen for years so this was my first experience of the TSA.

We had to wait at least an hour in a long queue and once we eventually got to the desk, we had our finger prints and our eyes scanned and were asked loads of silly questions.

Its completely unnecessary and totally ridiculous. Upon arriving back in the UK, all it took was 2 minutes waiting in a short queue and a quick scan of my passport and that was it.

Also why do they have to have stupidly long names for gov' departments, just call the TSA "Border Control" or "US Border" and call Department of Homeland Security simply the "Home Office" like we do in the UK.

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Re: All I can say is ...

Dude, the TSA is not the same as CBP (Customs and Border Protection), which is not to be confused with ICE (Immingrayion and Customs Enforcement). Still, glad you're so happy with the UK names, because otherwise you'd have difficulty with the government departments handling other countries: in the US, it's the State Department, in the UK the oh-so-snappy Foreign and Commonwealth Office...

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Try a new recruitment strategy

"It seems that when TSA screeners are shown finely rendered images of air passengers' nude bodies, rather than simple outlines, they tend to linger on each image, which slows the lines down."

If they recruited scanner operators who have been active members of a nudist/naturist club for at least a year, or perhaps retired porn actors/actresses, then the operators wouldn't be fascinated by the sight of naked bodies.

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Re: Try a new recruitment strategy

...but now (judging by the example ATR images), their HR department will just need to sift out all the job applications from Fru T. Bunn, Master Baker ("Uh ! Uh ! Uh ! You gingerbread slut !")

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