Friday, January 14, 2011

Traveler survey

This survey from last month is rather interesting. It was a very long survey, so I'm definitely cherry-picking here, but I have been a proponent of the idea that this will not change unless it hits the airlines where it hurts: their wallets. So, let's look at the questions that involved whether people are cutting down on air travel and why.

First: Yes, Americans are cutting down on air travel, whether for business or pleasure, but not yet in large numbers. This can be seen in that more people are cutting down on travel (28-31%) than are increasing air travel (17-26%), but most people are holding steady (42-54%). (These graphics are from the Powerpoint download provided by the US Travel Association.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Word of the Year

“Gate Rape” is winning word of the year for 2010 over at Urban Dictionary with almost 70,000 votes. Yes — it is a reference to airport “security.”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


There is news from the lawsuit filed by EPIC against DHS over the scanners: DHS finally filed its answer brief. A run-down of its contents can be found at Network World. Expect to hear more about this suit in March, when the hearing is scheduled to take place.

EPIC sponsored a conference that coincided with this news. Ralph Nader - whom I disagree with on many things - is a consistent civil libertarian and calls out the TSA policies. I don't know what his solution is (ahem! abolition) but his criticism is dead-on:

The TSA is a basketcase, collectively... What's happening is, we are incrementally losing our freedoms.
 Edward Luttock of the Center for International and Strategic Studies (an organization whose policy suggestions I rarely agree with) had an interesting story about the efficacy of the scanners:
In a test conducted in Europe, German prison guards were instructed to sneak explosives past three different scanners, including the full-body X-ray machine currently causing such a furore in the United States, Luttwak, a senior associate at the Center for International and Strategic Studies, said.
"They did it with such ease that the Air Travel Association, IATA, said there is no case for scanners," said Luttwak.
And word is that Rep. Chaffetz will re-introduce his legislation to prevent scanners from being used as primary screening. Chaffetz is one of the good guys here as he's been against the scanners from the start. Speaking personally, though, this is too little too late: I won't fly until airports and airlines run their own security.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What the TSA says about scanner-proof underwear

The TSA posted on it's blog that if you wear garments through the scanners that obstruct the technician's view of your naked body, that you will be patted down. From what I understand of post-scanner pat-downs, they focus only on the anomalous area. Note that these garments are being marketed as blocking a person's most private parts, so the implication is that the subsequent pat-down would be focused on breasts, buttocks, and genitals.

The owner of one of the companies that makes these supposedly scanner-proof garments, Marc Carey, is a lawyer, so it is interesting to read his response to this. Of course, he wants to sell more of his product, but there is an interesting legal point he is making:

"I can't imagine a member of the Supreme Court saying in a published decision that in order to board an airplane you have to grant a government official permission to grope your genitals," Carey says.

"The TSA can not be talking about our products (in the blog), Carey adds. "I consider this an endorsement."
But, then again, Dave Barry was already selected for a groping due to his abnormal groin and the policy didn't come to a halt.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Protest the TSA, get arrested

A college student was arrested for "Disorderly Conduct" after calmly walking through an airport's metal detector in his skivvies (Oh - and he exposed the text of the 4th Amendment that was written on his chest):

Link via David Kramer.