airport scans update

8 04 2009

Just found a piece by William Saletan on where he does a really good job expressing the concern I feel over the new airport scanning technology.

You’ll need to read the whole thing to get the context, but a couple of key points:

Initially, Saletan endorsed the technology, largely because it was less invasive than a pat-down and because faces and private parts would be obscured in the images. He writes:

Now I’m having second thoughts. I still like the technology. It’s the people behind it who worry me. Yes, the scan is less invasive than the pat-down. But TSA has just demonstrated its ability and willingness to move the goalposts. When TSA offered pat-downs as the alternative to body scans in secondary screening, the scan sounded pretty good. Now TSA is offering pat-downs as the alternative to body scans in primary screening, and again, the scan sounds better. And if TSA announces tomorrow that pat-downs are the new alternative for all train or bus passengers, body scans will seem preferable there, too. Anywhere we’re threatened with pat-downs, we’ll settle for body scans. Where does it end?


The TSA is no longer talking about a “privacy algorithm” that obscures faces and genitals. The obscured areas (the genitals specifically, since the face is typically readily visible) provide “gaps” where terrorists could hide things from the scans. In fact, according to the TSA, this has already happened. Saletan writes:

In other words, any detail omitted by airport screeners—a blurred crotch in the body scan, an untouched groin during the pat-down—becomes a “gap” exploited by terrorists or testers, which must then be closed.

“The enhanced pat-down will be used only after all other screening methods have been used and the alarm remains unresolved,” TSA promised last year. It added: “This new procedure will affect a very small percentage of travelers.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s what you said about the body scans. Just put on the gloves and get it over with.

I find myself feeling pretty conflicted about this. Again, I don’t object to the body scans per se. But I’m concerned about the sort of presumption of guilt that is implied and the invasion of personal “space.”


nudity at the airport

7 04 2009

A couple of years back, I remember hearing about a new type of scanner that was being planned for use in some airports, and which would use “backscatter x-rays” to penetrate clothing and, essentially, allow security personnel to view the naked bodies of airline passengers. (I wrote a brief post about it at my other blog.)

Now, it turns out that those tests were so successful, that “the Transportation Security Administration plans to replace the walk-through metal detectors at airport checkpoints with whole-body imaging machines — the kind that provide an image of the naked body.”

teenage pornographers

26 03 2009

A 14-year-old girl posted nude photos of herself on MySpace, and now is being accused of distributing child pornography. Let’s make sure we react appropriately to this! I know! Make her register as a sex offender! That doesn’t at all dilute the significance of that label, and people will still know who the actual *dangerous* sex offenders are, right?

spam on true nudists

19 02 2009

I just got an email informing me that someone had sent me a message via TrueNudists. When I logged in to see the message, it was one of those social networking spams where some sexy lady says, “Hey I like your profile, email me at this web site and let’s chat.” This is annoying, and if it gets worse, I’ll be cancelling my account. There was no provision for me to report this spam to the admins, and they’ll need to get a handle on that.

naturism on the web

26 01 2009

Nudiarist pointed out that a lot of naturist organizations have pretty poor web presences. I’ve noticed the same thing, and I think I have an explanation, for at least some cases. I just joined Minnesota Naturists, and it seemed to me that the folks in charge are just not as web savvy as I am. I’m bit younger, and have more experience with the Internet. While I didn’t grow up with it, I’ve adapted to it fairly well, and oftentimes have a hard time remembering what life was like before we had this level of connectedness (never mind that I was out of college by the time the web really took off). In so many ways, the web is a central part of my everyday life, and I take it for granted that others don’t have this same level of connection to it. I’m a bit surprised, for instance, that MN Naturists doesn’t have a presence on Facebook.

I think it’s a generational thing. Most of the leadership in the naturist community grew up without personal computers – to say nothing of the Internet. Because naturist organizations are typically run by volunteers and on tight budgets, they just don’t have the time & skill to have a better web presence, nor the funds to outsource the job. I think it will be up to the next generation (mine, I guess) to bring naturism more fully into the 21st century. When do we start?