Mubarak and TSA agree: No advantage to them leaving

In “TSA shuts door on private airport screening program,” CNN reports that “TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.”

The advantage, of course, is that it generates pressure on his agency to do better. I hope that he’ll be forced to answer to John Mica, who encouraged airports to do this, and is the chairman of the committee on transportation and infrastructure.

I believe Hosni Mubarak made similar comments about not needing regime change.

TSA News roundup

Get this 2-page Passenger’s Rights Sheet:

Grope up: Enough is Enough edition

Daily Grope Up

On a personal note, I sent email to a social mail list at work, and I’ve never gotten so much positive response. People care deeply, and haven’t known where to go to complain or how.

It’s time to call your Senator!

There’s no news roundup today, the stories are flying, unlike people, who are sick and tired of the indignities, the nudeatrons and the groping. If you want to see them, you can follow me on twitter or National Opt Out day

Tomorrow, there’s a Transportation Security Administration Oversight Hearing whose only witness is TSA Administrator John Pistole. The good fellow over at opt out day has a list of Senators on the committee:

The committee chair is Sen Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) phone (202) 224-6472. The ranking member is Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison 202-224-5922.

The subcommittee chair is Sen Byron L. Dorgon (D-ND) phone (202) 224-2551. The ranking member is Sen Jim DeMint (R-SC) phone (202) 224-6121.

Regardless of your home state, call the chairpersons to ask whether recent TSA abuses are on the agenda for the oversight hearing. Ask to speak with the staffer responsible for dealing with issues related to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Here is a list of committee members, their homepage and phone number. If one of these people is your Senator, please also phone them, either at the number below or look online to find their nearest local office – you can even visit in person. A constituent who knows a senator’s committee assignments and addresses issues for the agenda for a scheduled hearing gives him/herself an educated and powerful voice.

If none of these people is your senator, contact the committee chairs. Also contact your own senators and representative . They still need to hear your opinion, it’s just that they won’t be at this hearing.

D-AK Mark Begich (202) 224-3004

D-AR Mark Pryor (202) 224-2353
D-CA Barbara Boxer (202) 224-3553
D-FL Bill Nelson 202-224-5274

D-HI Daniel K. Inouye (202) 224.3934
D-MA John F. Kerry [(202) 224-2742
D-MN Amy Klobuchar 202-224-3244

D-MO Claire McCaskill 202-224-6154
D-ND Byron L. Dorgon phone (202) 224-2551
D-NJ Frank R. Lautenberg (973) 639-8700, (888) 398-1642

D-NM Tom Udall (202) 224-6621
D-VA Mark Warner 202-224-2023
D-WA Maria Cantwell 202-224-3441

D-WV Jay Rockefeller (202) 224-6472

R-FL George S. LeMieux (202) 224-3041
R-GA Johnny Isakson (202) 224-3643

R-KS Sam Brownback (202) 224-6521
R-LA David Vitter (202) 224-4623
R-ME Olympia J. Snowe (202) 224-5344, (800) 432-1599

R-MS Roger F. Wicker 202-224-6253
R-NE Mike Johanns (202) 224-4224
R-NV John Ensign (202) 224-6244

R-SC Jim DeMint phone (202) 224-6121
R-SD John Thune (202) 224-2321, 1-866-850-3855
R-TX Kay Bailey Hutchison 202-224-5922

Daily Grope-Up: The Groping Will Continue Until You Drive Edition

Lies, Damned Lies and TSA Statements: Today’s news grope-up

  • Earlier this week, the White House responded to the UC San Francisco faculty letter on nudatrons. (We mentioned that here.) National Academy of Sciences member John Sedat says “many misconceptions, and we will write a careful answer pointing out their errors.”
  • TSA has claimed that pictures will have blurred genital areas to “protect privacy.” Except as it turns out, they don’t, as documented by Dave ‘not very funny about this’ Barry in “Groin Update.” See also “So What Are We Able To See On The Body Scanner,” which would explain why a “blurred groin” is unusual.
  • TSA has also claimed that the naked pictures they take will be shown in a seperate room. As CMU professor Latanya Sweeny documents, they are visible to the public. Airport Body Scanner Disrupts Personal Security.
  • Despite TSa claims of equal treatment, Chris Soghoian reminds us that Congress and the cabinet don’t go through this.
  • TSA’s claims that they don’t store the images have not yet been publicly disproven.
  • All of which adds up to a great deal of national outrage:

    Reuters reports that, “Executives from the travel industry, including online travel sites, theme parks and hotels, were set to meet Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Pistole on Friday to discuss their concerns that security is crimping travel.”

    The feds were forced into action after five prominent pilot and travel associations, along with a flight attendants union, vowed to boycott naked body scanners as well as the new invasive pat down procedure, threatening travel chaos. The backlash has also been characterized by new cases of individuals being abused at the hands of the TSA, stories which continue to pour in on a daily basis.

Thanks to @ioerror, @nationaloptout, @samablog and to @boingboing for:


Today’s TSA news grope-up

TSA Body Scanners News: Why show ID edition

First, a quick news roundup:

So given the new machines and how stunningly intrusive they are, is there any reason to show ID when you show up at the airport?

It’s not TSA’s fault

October 18th’s bad news for the TSA includes a pilot declining the choice between aggressive frisking and a nudatron. He blogs about it in “Well, today was the day:”

On the other side I was stopped by another agent and informed that because I had “opted out” of AIT screening, I would have to go through secondary screening. I asked for clarification to be sure he was talking about frisking me, which he confirmed, and I declined. At this point he and another agent explained the TSA’s latest decree, saying I would not be permitted to pass without showing them my naked body, and how my refusal to do so had now given them cause to put their hands on me as I evidently posed a threat to air transportation security (this, of course, is my nutshell synopsis of the exchange). I asked whether they did in fact suspect I was concealing something after I had passed through the metal detector, or whether they believed that I had made any threats or given other indications of malicious designs to warrant treating me, a law-abiding fellow citizen, so rudely. None of that was relevant, I was told. They were just doing their job.

It’s true. TSA employees are just doing their job, which is to secure transportation systems. The trouble is, their job is impossible. We all know that it’s possible to smuggle things past the nudatrons and the frisking. Unfortunately, TSA’s job is defined narrowly as a secure transportation system, and every failure leads to them getting blamed. All their hard work is ignored. And so they impose measures that a great many American citizens find unacceptable. They’re going to keep doing this because their mission and jobs are defined wrong. It’s not the fault of TSA, it’s the fault of Congress, who defined that mission.

It’s bad enough that the chairman of British Airways has come out and said “Britain has to stop ‘kowtowing’ to US demands on airport checks.”

The fix has to come from the same place the problem comes from. We need a travel security system which is integrated as part of national transportation policy which encourages travel. As long as we have a Presidential appointee whose job is transportation security, we’ll have these problems.

Let’s stop complaining about TSA and start working for a proper fix.

So how do we get there? Normally, a change of this magnitude in Washington requires a crisis. Unfortunately, we don’t have a crisis crisis right now, we have more of a slow burning destruction of the privacy and dignity of the traveling public. We have massive contraction of the air travel industry. We have the public withdrawing from using regional air travel because of the bother. We may be able to use international pressure, we may be able to use the upcoming elections and a large number of lame-duck legislators who feared doing the right thing.

TSA is bleeding and bleeding us because of structural pressures. We should fix those if we want to restore dignity, privacy and liberty to our travel system.

AT&T, Voice Encryption and Trust

Yesterday, AT&T announced an Encrypted Mobile Voice. As CNet summarizes:

AT&T is using One Vault Voice to provide users with an application to control their security. The app integrates into a device’s address book and “standard operation” to give users the option to encrypt any call. AT&T said that when encryption is used, the call is protected from end to end.

AT&T Encrypted Mobile Voice is designed specifically for major companies, government agencies, and law enforcement organizations. An AT&T spokesperson said it is not available to consumers. The technology is available to users running BlackBerry devices or Windows Mobile smartphones, and it works in 190 countries.

Organizations interested in deploying Encrypted Mobile Voice will need to pay an additional fee to do so. AT&T said that cost depends on the size of the deployment. (“AT&T improves service security with encryption

Jake Appelbaum and Chris Soghoian expressed skepticism. (“From the company that brought you NSA wire tapping, they thought you’d also like….” and “If you trust AT&T’s new voice encryption service, you are a fool.“)

What’s funny (sad) about this is that there are a number of software encrypted voice systems available. They include RedPhone, CryptoPhone and zFone. Some of these even work on pocket sized computers with integrated radios. But Apple and AT&T won’t let you install alternate voice applications.

A lot of people claim that these restrictions on what you can do with your device just don’t matter very much. That you can really get everything you need. But here’s a clear example of why that isn’t so. Voice encryption is a special app that you have to get permission to run.

Now, maybe you don’t care. You’re “not doing anything wrong.” Well, Hoder wasn’t doing anything wrong when he went to Israel and blogged about it in Farsi. But he’s serving 20 years in jail in Iran.

Now is the time we should be building security in. Systems that prevent you from doing so, or systems that reset themselves to some manufacturer designated default are simply untrustworthy. We should demand better, more trustworthy products or build them ourselves.

[Added: I’d meant to include a comment about Adam Thierer’s comment “The more interesting question here is how “closed” is the iPhone really?” I think the answer is, in part, here. There’s a function, voice privacy, for which AT&T and three other companies think is marketable. And it doesn’t exist on the iPhone OS, which is the 2nd most prevalent phone platform out there.]

[Update 2: Robert and Rob rob me of some of my argument by pointing out that AT&T now allows you to install voice apps, but none of the encrypted voice apps that I’d consider trustworthy are available. (I exlude Skype and their proprietary & secret designs from trustworthy; it’s probably better than no crypto until you trust it, then it’s probably not good enough to really protect you.) Maybe this is a result of the arbitrary rejections by the Apple app store, but when I look for zfone, redphone or cryptophone, I see a fast dial app and some games. When I search for crypto, it’s all password managers. So while I’m no longer sure of the reason, the result remains. The iPhone is missing trustworthy voice crypto, despite the market.]

Free Hossein Derakhshan

Apparently, the Iranian Government has sentenced Hossein “Hoder” Derakhshan to 19.5 years in jail for “collaborating with enemy states, creating propaganda against the Islamic regime, insulting religious sanctity, and creating propaganda for anti-revolutionary groups.” If you think putting bloggers or journalists in jail is wrong, please, please take a moment to sign the petition to free him.

I’m shocked and appalled. I’d met Hoder once, when I was working with the Committee to Protect Bloggers on ways to help bloggers in repressive regimes protect their privacy and freedom of speech. He was a nice fellow, and helped me understand some little bit of the complexity of the Iranian blogosphere.

Regardless of our having met and him being a nice guy, the sentence can not be described except as insane and unjust.

No one should be in jail because of peaceful efforts to improve understanding between societies.

For more, please see the Free Hoder blog has an interview with Hoder’s mom, and there’s another blog Free the Blogfather, which is in French.

Please take a moment to sign the petition to free him, and ask your friends to do the same.

Rights at the “Border”

“I was actually woken up with a flashlight in my face,” recalled Mike Santomauro, 27, a law student who encountered the [Border Patrol] in April, at 2 a.m. on a train in Rochester.

Across the aisle, he said, six agents grilled a student with a computer who had only an electronic version of his immigration documents. Through the window, Mr. Santomauro said, he could see three black passengers, standing with arms raised beside a Border Patrol van.

“As a citizen I’m offended,” he said. But he added, “To say I didn’t want to answer didn’t seem a viable option.”

From the NYTimes, “ Border Sweeps in North Reach Miles Into U.S..”

If you think this is ok, where in the US should it not be legal for the armed agents of the state to demand your papers without any grounds for suspicion of wrongdoing?

Similarly, if a law student doesn’t see not answering police questions as a “viable option,” what do we do to restore balance to the Constitution?

Previously on Emergent Chaos: “100 Mile Constitution Free Zone.”