Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A short note on privacy 

I have to say, of all the privacy issues I worry about, the idea that a disassociated image of my naked silhouette ("look at the love handles on that dude!") might be passed around inside the TSA or posted on the internet is very far down the list. In fact, it is not even on the list. Celebrities and other public figures might have a deeper concern and provision ought to be made for them to opt out, but otherwise I think that the whining about full-body imaging is just silly.


By Blogger Donna B., at Tue Jan 12, 12:52:00 PM:

We'll just have to disagree about this. I think it's a most horrible invasion of privacy, and that actually has nothing to do with whether the image is saved or transferred.

Since so many prominent people seem to be pushing for this idea, I've decided that flying is not in my future.

I got fairly disgusted with meaningless, useless airport security measures before 2001. They haven't changed except to become more so.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jan 12, 12:53:00 PM:

I agree that the odds of anyone being interested in such an image of me is minimal. (But available upon request.)

However, if I was an attractive woman or had a daughter, I'd be more concerned. TSA has done very little to earn my trust and a good deal to deserve my wariness.  

By Blogger Jeff, at Tue Jan 12, 01:23:00 PM:

Well, you might just as well say that the fact that we don't want to parade around naked in public is "silly".

Is this a primitive, tribal, ritual notion that has outlived its usefulness? Or is the desire not to be seen naked by strangers part of the deepest urge for privacy and part of human nature?

Personally, I don't much care if my silhouette is seen as part of a security check. But I'm on the side of those who don't want it to be seen.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jan 12, 01:56:00 PM:

I've been bewildered by TSA's insistance that the machines won't have tha capapcity to store and send images. If ever there is an investigation, which presumably there will be, the images will obviously be needed. Of course the machines will store and send images.

Beyond that issue, though, I'd like to ask if anyone thinks these scanners have much security value that isn't better performed by puffer machines and conventional scanners. There is considerable dispute as to whether a full body scan would have detected the bomb materials Abdulmutallab took onto his aircraft in Copenhagen, and the full body scanners clearly would not detect body cavity bombs. So what unique value do they have? Puffer machines are better at detecting chemical signatures of explosives and those are the devices we should use.  

By Anonymous Everyman, at Tue Jan 12, 08:06:00 PM:

Consider the plight of those - yes, I am one, well past middle age and white haired as well - who increasingly show up at the TSA screening area with titanium hip replacements. I unfailingly buzz when x-rayed, and I'm given extensive attention from glove-wearing TSA personnel, none of which tells them anything beyond what I have told them, that I have some metal innards. Three times I have been required to accompany two uniformed TSA men into a separate room and to lower my pants to show them my scar. Each time I commiserated with them over their discomfort - I didn't have any; they obviously felt the fool - and while my privacy was no doubt damaged beyond all repair, we all got over it. For whatever that's worth, which is to say, not much in the way of security.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jan 13, 12:30:00 AM:

TSA's insistance that the machines won't have tha capapcity to store and send images

Sure, and the TSA agent won't be able to flip open his camera phone for a quick shot on occasion.  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Wed Jan 13, 09:44:00 AM:

The prospect of being scanned doesn't bother me at all. But the general atmosphere which the terror campaign has caused would make me extremely reluctant to visit the US now.

I think Al Qaeda is winning.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jan 13, 11:04:00 AM:

I agree with your general point that this is a smaller deal than people make it out to be, but I also agree the idea that images can't be stored or otherwise abused is too ridiculous to argue about.

I'm not sure if 01:56 is correct about sniffers, but we should definitely continue developing that technology. In the meantime, I have no prob with the full body scanners, but I'd like to see a well defined chain of custody on data from them, with extremely harsh penalties(i.e. mandatory prison time, ruinous fines, and unlimited personal liability) for any breach.  

By Anonymous Dale, at Thu Jan 14, 12:09:00 AM:

It is not whining to oppose being scanned. This is an issue of controlling privacy. If you wish to allow them to look at your nakedness underneath your clothes than good for you. I choose not to allow that because I don't want it. Quite frankly, there are people like you who will do anything as long as the right reason is presented to you. You believe that your privacy has no value.
I am not like you.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 14, 06:44:00 AM:


How exactly is it disassociated? It's an image of YOU, not your face pasted on someone elses picture or something, it is an image of you. If I take a picture of you, it that a disassociated image or is it a picture of you?

Anyway, even if your face is blurred out (and I don't really believe that it will be, just like I never believed that they wouldn't store the images that they take), the scanner issue is just another sideshow from the real issue here. The real issue here is that there is a certain risk of terrorism in flying and a certain group of people (cough...militant muslims...cough) are the source of virtually all of it. Until we face up to that, and agree to do something about it, the risk will remain.

I'll leave you with this thought - weapons and drugs get smuggled into prisons every day. How that happens, given the guards, the physical separation of visitors from inmates, and general constant supervision of inmates, is beyond me. So, given that, how likely is it that we will be able to prevent a really determined terrorist from blowing up a plane? Oh, and when you picture a "really determined terrorist" in you mind, who did you envision? Given that, why do we keep letting them on our planes again? Oh, I forgot, we are willing to risk our lives because we don't want to offend them. Of course. Makes perfect sense.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 15, 03:40:00 PM:

I'm glad you're willing to dump your privacy for a security measure which will likely prove to be ineffective, but if I choose to not let my grandmother, wife, or children be viewed nude by strangers, HOW DARE YOU give away their modesty?

It is NOT your place to agree to a degrading and dehumanizing procedure to be performed MY family.  

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