FlyRights is a smartphone app designed to provide a quick and easy way to report complaints of air travel harassment, profiling, and discrimination. Within the first ten hours of its launch, FlyRights had fielded two complaints of harassment and profiling. By contrast, the DHS's report to Congress on civil rights and civil liberties listed only 11 complaints in the first six months of 2011. FlyRights was designed by the Sikh Coalition, the nation's largest Sikh civil rights organization.
"Since 9/11, the U.S. has spent more than $1.1 trillion on homeland security." To walk through an airport with Bruce Schneier is to see how much change a trillion dollars can wreak. So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost. And directed against a threat that, by any objective standard, is quite modest.
"Without knowing what they ought to fear, US citizens might otherwise fail to support profitable national security initiatives." - Malcolm P. Stag III, Secretary of Fear [more inside]
Following a widely-reported incident in which TSA agents required a 95-year-old cancer patient to remove her adult diaper for inspection before being allowed to board her flight, TV pundit Keith Olbermann has designated TSA chief John Pistole the "Worst Person in the World" and called for his removal. In other news, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) says it has obtained evidence that "the Department of Homeland Security has failed to properly evaluate the level of risk from airport body scanners." Documents obtained by EPIC via the Freedom of Information Act reveal that "even after TSA employees identified cancer clusters possibly linked to radiation exposure, the agency failed to issue employees dosimeters - safety devices that could assess the level of radiation exposure." (News report with video: TSA workers fear radiation dangers from scanners.) EPIC says the documents also indicate that DHS "mischaracterized the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, stating that NIST 'affirmed the safety' of full body scanners.". In a private email response (PDF link), NIST stated that the institute had not tested the safety of the scanners. And yesterday the Texas legislature approved a watered-down version of its TSA "anti-groping" bill. The Idaho legislature is also considering an anti-TSA-groping bill. [more inside]
"Better people than I have sacrificed more than their careers, their livelihood, for the cause of freedom. Americans need to wake up and stand up." Michael Roberts, a pilot for ExpressJet, refused to enter the millimeter wave machine. TSA called the police and sent him home. [more inside]
Clear, the "security service" that allowed travellers to bypass TSA security lines, offered a Father's Day discount if you purchased a one-year membership by June 21. On June 23, Clear ceased operations. Sorry, no refunds.
Last week, a woman at DC's Reagan Airport was detained because of water in her son's sippy cup. In an unusual step, the TSA has posted their own Mythbusters site where they show the security footage and the official incident report. Here is BoingBoing's take on the video. And a security/security technology blogger posts about the larger lesson that people readily side against the TSA "because there's no accountability or transparency in the DHS."
John Gilmore, co-founder of the EFF , is suing a couple of airlines, the FAA, the FBI, the TSA, the DHS, and a Mr. John Ashcroft. Why? May I see your papers, please?