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Cheers - AE

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Khan body scanner story.

As I said yesterday it might well be bullshit, and since the refutation by BAA rests on the pretty easy to verify point that the scanners don't have any means to store or print images I'm inclined to believe them. However, with mobile phone cameras being so ubiquitous (someone told me a few years ago that technically the best selling camera manufacturer in the world at the time was Nokia) I can't see the lack of printing or recording facilities on the scanner equipment itself being much of a hurdle to overcome. Presumably there are other policies and procedures that are there to prevent someone whipping out their mobile and grabbing a few pics of what's on the screen but ultimately it comes down to telling the staff not to do it and trusting that they don't. Sure, you could make them leave their phones in lockers or something but you'd need to search them to be sure they haven't smuggled in one you don't know about. Even if you did that a determined individual could probably get around it. I've seen spy cameras convincingly disguised as pens for less than this example, and preventing something that size from being smuggled in would require a more thorough search of both individual staff and the items they bring in with them. We'd move from asking who watches the watchers to wondering who searches those who search us.

Of course all this misses the point completely. I don't want to belabour the point I made yesterday but the overwhelming majority of flyers are just people with a need or desire to be somewhere else more quickly than other forms of transport can manage. As the Israelis have shown it's not necessary to scan everyone. As German TV has shown it's not always effective. And it's self evident from wandering around an airport terminal and looking at all the people staring at their third hour on the receiving end of suspicion and distrust that it's not fucking desirable.*

Stop fucking about and treating us as if we are all a threat - and worse, subjecting everyone to the same indignities as the tiny number of people you think might actually be terrorists so as to appear sensitive to racial and cultural issues - and start trying to identify the tiny number of fucknuts who really are dangerous. It's worth re-iterating how good at this the Israelis have become and how, despite all our security theatre, the religious nutters still seem to prefer playing their games with American and western carriers to El Al. You shouldn't need to be a fucking security expert to take a punt at what that means.

* People might say they support it when selected to take part in a survey and asked carefully worded questions, even when they've flown before and already know what a miserable fucking experience it's become. But I doubt many of them saw it that way when they've finally got to board their flight after hours of checks and scans and questions, and I wonder how many of them know that the Israeli model is an alternative.
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