“Behind the eyes, we feel ourselves shrink”
February 27, 2017 12:01 AM   Subscribe

Airport security: Building a digital wall "We had already been through boarding pass checks, passport checks, scanners, and pat downs. At the gate, each passenger had already had their tickets scanned and we were all walking on the jet bridge to board. It’s at this point that most people assume that it is all done: finally we can enjoy some sense of normalcy..."
posted by beesbees (97 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well that's just peachy.
posted by wierdo at 1:09 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Every passenger, one by one, was told to step on a mat and look into the green scanner. It was scanning our eyes and matching that scan with the passport, which was also scanned.

Um. My passport does not contain a scan of my retinas. To my knowledge and memory, no database (yet) does. So what was this matching?

The paranoiac in me, who has been saying Told You So! to my trusting self a lot in the last dozen years, is now suggesting such a system would not be matching to a database. Rather, it's building a database. Yes
posted by rokusan at 1:24 AM on February 27, 2017 [58 favorites]


Last plane trip I took. Chicago to San Diego round trip. Got vigorously frisked by an extremely large guard with an impressive mustache named Clarence. Publically.

Why, you ask?

Because my CPAP machine tested positive for explosives.

Once. (They tested it three times.)

Never mind I actually flew a puddle jumped from where I live elsewhere in Illinois, and there's a goodly bit of farming in the area. So, maybe, instead of registering nitrates/nitrites on my machine, they might have looked in the bag and seen the laminated prescription for the machine, the instruction manual, or the fact it came in the manufacturer's branded bag.

Instead, I get to stand around while every bypassing passenger watches me get felt up and get uncomfortable wondering what evil I am perpetrating. FWIW, I am pretty much whiter than Wonder Bread and male.

The worst part is that if a strapping man is going to fondle me energetically in public, I would at least appreciate a meal, or even just coffee first.
posted by Samizdata at 1:25 AM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


rokusan: "Every passenger, one by one, was told to step on a mat and look into the green scanner. It was scanning our eyes and matching that scan with the passport, which was also scanned.

Um. My passport does not contain a scan of my retinas. To my knowledge and memory, no database (yet) does. So what was this matching?

The paranoiac in me, who has been saying *Told You So* to my testing self a lot in the last dozen years, is now suggesting such a system would not be matching to a database. Rather, it's *building* a database.
"

Also, I concur.
posted by Samizdata at 1:26 AM on February 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


I was pretty excited to buy tickets to come home for thanksgiving this year (first time home for thanksgiving in 18 years!) but now? In less and less excited about it with every article I read about CBP and their seeming glee at having all common sense limits or checks on their power removed. I stopped bringing my laptop home after the decision was handed down saying that CBP could open and examine computers with no warrant. Now they're scanning phones and asking for (private) passwords to social media sites? How much worse is this going to get before November? Am I going to end up leaving my phone in Japan just to be safe? Or will being someone not carrying a phone make me subject to more scrutiny?

I never agreed to live out the fantasies of right wing militaristic masturbatory future war novelists. I mean, why the hell happened to all the conservatives crowing about invasion of privacy and surveillance state? Aren't they supposed to be against this shit? Or are they really, truly, at the end of the day just dumb enough to believe in the "you have nothing to worry about if you have nothing to hide" horseshit?
posted by Ghidorah at 1:47 AM on February 27, 2017 [27 favorites]


The UK had an automated immigration system that used iris scanning for a while for frequent travellers, it's now been replaced by a more standard machine that scans the biometric chip. And yes adding weight to the comment above that this information builds a database, it is not in your passport biometrics - in the UK you had to make an appointment to get your iris scanned into the database. I have no idea if the data has been destroyed now that the system has been decommissioned.

I was watching one of those reality border security shows over the weekend about Canada, and the entire episode featured agents nonchalantly going through people's blogs, googling them for background, checking their texts, accessing all their devices. So that's clearly been going on for years without much controversy. So is the reality is that pretty much every country has been able to do this for some time? Why did we only just now wake up to this?
posted by wingless_angel at 2:11 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


You concur so quickly I can't even fix my typos in time, Samizdata.

In my defense, I'm on a plane. On my phone. Drunk. Business as usual, basically.
posted by rokusan at 2:19 AM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


I have no idea if the data has been destroyed now that the system has been decommissioned.

LOL, yeah they destroyed it all *snort*
posted by Meatbomb at 2:35 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Ghidorah: [What] the hell happened to all the conservatives crowing about invasion of privacy and surveillance state?

Well, at least some of them appear to be writing articles decrying exactly those things. (FEE about page)
posted by ropeladder at 2:52 AM on February 27, 2017


ropeladder, honestly, I wasn't familiar with FEE. Having read that, I guess I can file this under the "conservative perfectly okay with invasive government security until it impinges directly on them" school of writing.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:18 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Ooh, the FEE site tried to give me push notifications not once but twice. And a screen-covering pop-up selling books when I'd read about four paragraphs.
posted by Grangousier at 3:20 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Um. My passport does not contain a scan of my retinas. To my knowledge and memory, no database (yet) does. So what was this matching?

Passports don't match biometrics yet, but we do keep biometric data (including more recently iris scans) for people arrested on immigration violations. My guess is the outgoing scan was looking for repeat border jumpers, who normally don't have to worry about the return direction. Invasive biometrics is yet another trick picked up from the war on insurgents abroad, and of course we can all see how well that's worked out...
posted by mystyk at 3:37 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Also, regarding America:

.
posted by mystyk at 3:38 AM on February 27, 2017 [11 favorites]


with an impressive mustache named Clarence

As any serious mustache aficionado will tell you, almost all mustaches are named Clarence. Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck's are, at least.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:54 AM on February 27, 2017 [29 favorites]


Instead, I get to stand around while every bypassing passenger watches me get felt up and get uncomfortable wondering what evil I am perpetrating.

Don't torture yourself about this. I refuse to subject myself to the body scanner and I always request a patdown, in public, because I don't trust the screeners to behave in private. Fuck anyone else and what they think, in fact, I am judging them for not standing up to this bullshit but contributing to the degradation of all our rights and dignity by unquestioningly playing along with the security theatrics.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:07 AM on February 27, 2017 [19 favorites]


Every time they swab my kids hands (it has happened 3 times now) for explosives, I can barely stop myself from screaming.
posted by ryanshepard at 4:39 AM on February 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


On a related note, last time I went through MEL there was the option of using facial recognition or just handing your passport to the customs official like normal.

After the facial recognition failed to work three times, I gave up and handed over my passport.

The people that actually build these systems are aware of how fragile they are. Don't freak out yet. (I also give no shits that I'm photographed going through Melbourne Airport. So what.)
posted by iffthen at 4:47 AM on February 27, 2017


As far as I understand it the face scan is a face scan, not an iris or retina scan. It's looking for general facial proportions, such as the ratios of head width, head length, and distance between eyes. I think that some of these are stored in the passport chip, or accessed via the passport chip ID and a back end somewhere. I've had some pretty exacting instructions for recent passport photographs.
posted by carter at 4:48 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


What's truly irksome is how this nonsense builds up like coral reefs and travelers just have to take it. A year from now the retina scan will be normalized and some new uselessly invasive procedure will be added to the mix and people will complain and complain and then that too will pass into normal. It's also curious how much easier the previously complex parts of traveling have become (buying tickets, checking in, boarding cards, changing seats &c) while the security burden (in terms of time wasted) has risen steadily.
posted by chavenet at 4:50 AM on February 27, 2017 [11 favorites]




I gave up on the pat down a while ago. One of the things I usually bring back to Japan are bulk spices which are unavailable here. I pack them in my carryon because I would rather be there to answer the questions directly when they scan my bag and see six or seven kilo bags of powder. Of course, I also tend to bring curing salt for my homemade bacon. Curing salt= nitrite= failed test on the bomb sniffing thing. So I always let them know that they're going to want to search my bag, and that always gets me the full pat down.

As for security theater, well, the bag inspection varies depending on who does it. I've been ordered to open my bag and remove the contents, and I've also been yelled at not to touch my bag (I think that's the closest I've ever come to having a gun pointed at me) simply because I was going off of what I'd been told to do the previous trip. Lot's of fun.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:04 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Home-made bacon ☺️
posted by iffthen at 5:12 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Or will being someone not carrying a phone make me subject to more scrutiny?

Very possibly.
I use an old-school flip-phone which I tend to leave at home when my wife and I travel because she's the one with the modern smart phone (and everyone calls her anyway.) So, when we were going through security theater at the airport and the TSA agent tersely reminded me to put my phone in the tub for scanning, I told her I didn't have a phone. The look I got from her was very, very scary. Like I wasn't sure if I was about to be pulled into a room for cavity searching scary. She let me pass, but the moment made me pretty nervous. It was pretty obvious they view phone-less travelers as somewhat suspect.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:14 AM on February 27, 2017 [11 favorites]


Ooh same here. During the aforementioned trip, to go see about a girl, I refused to take my smartphone into Chinese political territory. (It's common knowledge among the computer security cognoscenti that you don't do that sort of thing.) Got some severe raised eyebrows on the way out.
posted by iffthen at 5:21 AM on February 27, 2017


I got The Full Workup at a podunk 3-gate airport in Florida this year because something was wrong with their machines and every third person was getting dinged. I almost missed my flight (despite the fact that I could see my gate from the security area) because they had to stop like all 10 of us, one after another, go through our bags with a fine-toothed comb, and give us all full pat-downs. They were nice enough about it but you'd think that if your machines are giving that many false positives you'd ease up a bit, but apparently not. (I can't imagine what goes down when this kind of thing happens at a major airport.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:55 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Regarding the not carrying a phone thing, when we were at Universal Studios for a week, I thought it would be easier if my husband put everything in his pockets (just his phone and wallet) in my purse for the security screening, then just my purse would be deposited and picked up at the other end, but the security guards just couldn't believe that my husband didn't have anything in his pockets and kept repeating over and over to him that he had to remove everything and put it all in the tub. They wouldn't let him pass for awhile, and of course when he did go through the metal detector it went off because of his belt.

After that I let him carry his own stuff in his own pockets. Of course that's not at the airport but still, it was weird.
posted by jenjenc at 6:00 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


now serving: boiled frog
posted by entropicamericana at 6:04 AM on February 27, 2017 [17 favorites]


Unless I am crazy-late for a flight, I always do the opt-out rather than the mm wave scanner. Which I find kind of amusing because I have exactly the body type that could more easily smuggle things through mm wave. I figure I'm doing my part to try and normalize noncompliance within the rules. (Also, last I checked, the safety info on those machines wasn't actually solid.)

I'm about to take a trip from the US to Mexico, and while I'm a middle aged white lady (and so a pretty low priority target for these folks), I'm still trying to figure out what I'll be wiping off my phone before I hit customs on the way back. Which just makes me sad.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:05 AM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


(1) Enjoy examining this empty-ass piece of junk smartphone from Walmart, guys. It has some emails and a missed call from "Mom" on it, and a few pictures of, lets call it my dog? Isnt he (?) cute? Oh, and a guacamole recipe. The lockscreen is Buddy Christ giving a big thumbs up.

(2) Immigration guys don't communicate with x-ray guys. That's way back in Security.

(3) The real phone stays in the luggage.
posted by rokusan at 6:17 AM on February 27, 2017


Am I going to end up leaving my phone in Japan just to be safe? Or will being someone not carrying a phone make me subject to more scrutiny?

Apparently the latter: Stop Fabricating Travel Security Advice: Advice that includes lying to federal officers is worse than useless (the headline is typically hyperbolic but the contents seem pretty sensible)
posted by indubitable at 6:24 AM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


wow, or maybe less hyperbolic than I thought given the immediately preceding comment
posted by indubitable at 6:26 AM on February 27, 2017


These 'look into the screen' readers are common at the UK's major airports. They are positioned before you get to security at the ones I've been through, and given most people check in at home they are often the first encounter with airport security or any other airport staff. Here Gatwick explains what is going on: they take a photo and generate an algorithm for your iris and you scan your boarding pass in at the same time. Refusal means you don't fly. They also say something about making sure that the right person is getting on the plane, which makes me wonder whether the person in the FPP had some sort of ID taken on the way in and this was being cross checked before boarding. I have an inkling that there was a scan at the gate last time I went through Gatwick, I'll look out for it next time.
posted by biffa at 6:27 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


the security guards just couldn't believe that my husband didn't have anything in his pockets and kept repeating over and over to him that he had to remove everything and put it all in the tub

I get that all the time because I don't keep anything in my pockets when I travel, which is often. I just smile and pull my pockets inside-out.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:31 AM on February 27, 2017


Seriously, I really do travel with two phones, though not for any sexy reason like this; it's just cheaper to use local SIMs for data while keeping my phone numbers intact. But if nobody ever asks "do you have another phone?" I wonder... which would I give them? Whichever I'm holding, I guess?

And that reminds me, I do know people who have dual boot laptops for this reason. Look, a boring old Windows environment. Nothing interesting here.

(Is an immigration officer in any country going to ask you to boot from another partition?)
posted by rokusan at 6:41 AM on February 27, 2017


the security guards just couldn't believe that my husband didn't have anything in his pockets and kept repeating over and over to him that he had to remove everything and put it all in the tub

Interesting. Like grumpybear, my pockets are usually empty long before I approach a metal detector or scanner. But it's never raised an eyebrow, not even at Universal last week, funnily enough. I just make the international sign for empty hands, got nothin' and they wave me through.
posted by rokusan at 6:44 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


(Is an immigration officer in any country going to ask you to boot from another partition?)

I don't know about laptops, but for phones, they are reportedly not actually using your phone to inspect your data, but instead imaging its storage and checking it on their own machines, as well as using any passwords, etc. they find to search e-mails and social media even if not stored on your phone.
posted by enn at 6:48 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I've decided I'm going to take my HP Veer with me as my only phone when I need to travel. One day a security officer will look at it, say "WebOS? Seriously?" and then we'll be BFFs forever.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:51 AM on February 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


I used to carry a lighter in my pockets when I went through security, after a Us Air pilot told me I could get away with it. Haven't tried that in some years, though.
posted by thelonius at 6:56 AM on February 27, 2017


For flying, I chose to have the intrusive part at the front end, opting to go through the background check (and pay the fee) for the Global Entry program. The "pre-check" lines are faster, you keep your shoes on, and it's been a long time since I was sent through a porno-scanner.

But what I keep seeing described as the "newly empowered" customs and immigration operations worry me a lot -- I see other federal security services (including the FBI) continuing to follow the rules, more or less, while the customs/immigration side seems to have become a personal support force for the new administration.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:01 AM on February 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


(Is an immigration officer in any country going to ask you to boot from another partition?)

Err, yeah, if my estimation of the zeitgeist is correct.

(3) The real phone stays in the luggage.

Nope, your real phone stays at home, and your travel phone is your real phone, at least as far as Immigration is concerned.

Stay safe rokusan.
posted by iffthen at 7:04 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Sadly, DF, two of the last three Global Entry lines I've used were longer than the regular lines. SeaTac is often this way, for example.

Paranoid me: hey, this program designed to get everyone to volunteer their fingerprints has proven so wildly popular that the benefit to travelers is evaporating!
posted by rokusan at 7:06 AM on February 27, 2017


I see other federal security services (including the FBI) continuing to follow the rules, more or less, while the customs/immigration side seems to have become a personal support force for the new administration.

Yes. This is not a good thing.
posted by iffthen at 7:08 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


All of you who don't opt out of the pornoscanner are missing a golden opportunity. Anecdotally, I've discovered that the overlap between "homophobic assholes who couldn't pass police academy" and "TSA checkpoints guards" is remarkably high, so when you opt out and get a visibly uncomfortable guard patting you down, there's your chance. Lock eyes with him and give him your best unblinking rictus grin, optionally with the occasional pleased sigh. We probably can't beat the system, but we can make sure the cogs in this terrible machine are having days at least as bad as we are.
posted by Mayor West at 7:19 AM on February 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


"I've decided I'm going to take my HP Veer with me as my only phone when I need to travel. One day a security officer will look at it, say "WebOS? Seriously?" and then we'll be BFFs forever."

Well, you're certainly now mine. *Pats disused Pre3 lovingly*

Make sure it's not in Developer mode though, that lovely business is WIDE open. Just type "webos20090606" into the search to be sure.
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 7:28 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Apparently the latter: Stop Fabricating Travel Security Advice: Advice that includes lying to federal officers is worse than useless (the headline is typically hyperbolic but the contents seem pretty sensible)
Don't wipe your devices because they might spend an hour annoying you, and might but probably won't confiscate your wiped devices, and there's a slight possibility (with no evidence this has actually happened) they could pursue some sort of additional investigation against you in the future, some day, with no details or plausible mechanism by which this could happen?

No thanks. If giving up all claims to personal liberty is the price of not accepting a one in thousands chance at losing a three year old cell phone, then only a fool, or someone with a lot more personal stake at risk than me, would pay it.

We could at least force the government to actually use threats before we beg each other to comply so as to avoid inconvenience. I'll take my secondary screening and temporary detention over a shocking privacy violation any day. It's literally the least I can do with my incredible privilege.

To be fair, "dont lie to federal officers" is good advice. The rest is bunk, unless you're actually a member of a vulnerable or suspect population.
posted by eotvos at 7:30 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


All of you who don't opt out of the pornoscanner are missing a golden opportunity. Anecdotally, I've discovered that the overlap between "homophobic assholes who couldn't pass police academy" and "TSA checkpoints guards" is remarkably high, so when you opt out and get a visibly uncomfortable guard patting you down, there's your chance. Lock eyes with him and give him your best unblinking rictus grin, optionally with the occasional pleased sigh.

Doesn't really work for women.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:31 AM on February 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


I'll take my secondary screening and temporary detention over a shocking privacy violation any day.

I'm more worried about a physical violation, honestly.

Seriously, is there anything to be done besides "dummy phone with nothing real on it" and then shipping your real phone?

Christ this is unreal.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:33 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Sadly, DF, two of the last three Global Entry lines I've used were longer than the regular lines. SeaTac is often this way, for example.

Paranoid me: hey, this program designed to get everyone to volunteer their fingerprints has proven so wildly popular that the benefit to travelers is evaporating!


I have been mostly flying domestic flights, so access to the precheck line is the key benefit most of the time. They struggled for a long time (and sometimes still do) with load-balancing between the regular and faster lines; it doesn't surprise me that the Global Entry side is not working smoothly.

I figured that I've already given my fingerprints for a number of background checks already, so since I'm already in the system and any Homeland Security contractor can pull up my information easily, I may as well get some travel benefits out of the deal.

My pessimistic guess is that the customs agency will not get back under lawful control until after this administration, since their actions (illegal or improper though they may be) are so clearly serving a political agenda. My best hope is that there are a slew of firings and, in the best case, some jailings over it eventually.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:40 AM on February 27, 2017


All of you who don't opt out of the pornoscanner are missing a golden opportunity. Anecdotally, I've discovered that the overlap between "homophobic assholes who couldn't pass police academy" and "TSA checkpoints guards" is remarkably high, so when you opt out and get a visibly uncomfortable guard patting you down, there's your chance. Lock eyes with him and give him your best unblinking rictus grin, optionally with the occasional pleased sigh.

Fake having your bottom pinched as if Michael Hordern had just gone past in Up Pompeii.
posted by biffa at 7:44 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


schadenfrau: you could also take the wipe approach to social media and just reinstall Facebook or whatever later.

But that marks you as a non-cooperator and may get you into trouble.

Basically the US government has decreed that if you fly internally, or exit the nation by any means at all, they are entitled to all your data forever. Unless that changes you're into lying to the government (by omission at the very least) territory which isn't exactly safe or advisable.

The whole thing is horrible and sucks and has absolutely no chance of getting better with a Republican government, and not much chance of getting better with a Democratic government. Remember, all the rules we're complaining about here were either invented during the Obama administration or were preserved through it.

There just aren't many politicians who give a fuck, and there won't be until we start pressuring them. The Republicans are a lost cause, but maybe if we put in a preposterous amount of effort we can push the Democrats in the right direction.
posted by sotonohito at 7:45 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


I gave up on flying a while back. it's just too damn much hassle.
posted by sotonohito at 7:46 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


The exploit of homophobia does not work so well for women. I spent many years getting special attention every time I went through a metal detector because all of my bras that I'm willing to wear outside the house have a metal underwire. I got pretty comfortable walking through, looking the agent in the eye and saying "The machine is picking up my underwire. Would you like me to step behind the partition?" They tended to just looked relieved that I was not going to make a middle-aged white lady fuss. I've pulled the same thing with the pornoscanners telling the agent "The voice in your ear is going to tell you to to the underwire patdown and may have you check my hair if there's a little scatter off my hairclip." That just sort of befuddles them, especially after they are clearly told exactly the same thing by the person watching the scan results. It gives me the illusion of control, by taking matter-of-fact charge of the process.

It is less suspicious for women to have nothing in their pockets, though, as we so often do not have pockets.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:47 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


"They take a photo and generate an algorithm for your iris and you scan your boarding pass in at the same time."

First of all, what is concerning about the original article is not the iris scanning machine. It's the militarised security and context that comes with it. As Biffa states, the same level of security is applied in the UK (and several other European countries) in a more innocuous and less intrusive manner.

The United States generally shows force in a very specific way. There are two worlds in the United States. Free, and not free. One is generally free, until there is a reason where the state choose to exercise control. At that point, generally the United States wants to show absolute control.

Europeans are disturbed when pulled over for minor traffic violations and greeted with guns drawn. The rational explanation for that involves an armed population. As citizens can have guns as well, the police effectively draw first, regardless of the situation. The emotional result for most (unarmed) people is a feeling of powerlessness. Once the state has chosen to intervene, it's control is exercised in absolute.

We see the same thing in protests, where ordinary citizens are greeted by militarised police forces, with armoured vehicles and body armoured troops. Again, the show of force of the state is de facto, absolute, and unquestionable.

Previously, the populous largely accepted the overwhelming force of the state because the mechanisms of control were democratic and legislative. Not only did civilians ultimately command domestic military forces, but also forces can (could?) be held liable in court, either civilly or criminally, and at either the organisation or the individual levels.

The second most striking feature of the original post – beyond the militarisation of an airport in peacetime – is the complete obscurity federal agencies begin to operate in. What started with the No Fly List is now extending to the biometric registration list. There is a shadow force operating. Difficult to identify, and most likely more difficult to bring to accountability.

That violates the treatise between the people and the government in terms of the exercise of overwhelming state force. As mentioned, people largely seem to accept it when there are mechanisms for control and accountability. Now we see the rise of greater militarisation and force, with simultaneous moves against transparency and civil control. Under the guise of terrorist threat, force becomes more pronounced while control is weakened. No doubt American citizens feel perturbed by that equation. It violates the fundamental agreements of power within the United States.

In Britain (Europe), control is exercised in a substantially different manner. There is much less transparency around government monitoring and intervention. I am constantly reminded in Britain that there is no right to free speech, for example. The airports are heavily monitored, as are ubiquitous CCTV cameras, mobile traffic, internet connections, financial transactions, etc. Here, there is the expectation that the government may do what it deems necessary to maintain order and safety. There is also the understanding that operates outside of public purview in many cases. However, the balance is that the government does not constantly show high levels of force. Biometrics are scanned innocuously. Police engagements do not begin with weapons drawn.

As I become more versed in European history, I become aware of different understandings of state power and state organs. For example, the European Parliament has heavy debates on data usage and ownership. In part, that's driven by the German contingent. The Nazi party was almost mechanistic in terms of collecting personal information. It kept neatly organised records, and used that data to shape, manipulate, and coerce public opinion. Consequently, the German people today are very wary of extreme information asymmetries between to government and citizens.

Rightly so, it seems. One consideration with regard to the United States is the existential threat to the public imposed by the dual drivers of exponential data processing capabilities, combined with a new government both openly ignoring structural checks and balances, as well as actively moving away from transparency in every regard. Much as the Germans are actively suspicious of coming possibility to weaponise data against civilian populations, should we be as well.

To be clear, biometrics are here to stay. Further, technology is always agnostic. A simple retinal scan and database of scans doesn't do anything. The military forces both at the airline gate and behind the scenes do things. Data is just simply byte streams. Ultimately, people are the ones choosing to exercise force, and then manifesting force. For now.

In terms of biometric data collection, retinal scanners are the least of your worries. If you want to see some of the latest and greatest biometric technology, look at the hospitality and retail industries. As margins are squeezed, businesses find themselves in a technological arms race dedicated to endless improvements to customer experience. The Wynn in Las Vegas is putting Amazon Alexa units in all of its rooms. While Alexa responds to commands, technically it is always on. Always processing sound.

One of the key themes is personalisation. How do they show you exactly what you want to see? How do they match offers to your mood? How do they provide information to customer service staff on your shopping patterns, or overall customer value?

There's a company in London called Hoxton Analytics that is doing this using cameras that scan shoes. A hack around data protection and privacy, the system does not recognise you by your face. Rather it scans your feet. Today, it has the ability to tell gender and entry/exit (pattern matching). Tomorrow, it will be able to tell much more. Age, fitness and weight (from gait), and also location pattern. As the foot data is stored on a common cloud, each installation becomes a a node in a tracking network. As the algorithm becomes more advanced, it can tell where a pair of shoes goes. It doesn't know the person attached to those shoes, but again, that is a legislative/compliance decision, not a technological limitation.

There's a company in Estonia, run by three early-twenties guys, looking at tracking people through stores and shopping centres, whilst maintaining the privacy of the shopper. They use a series of cameras scattered around the store, and run computer vision algorithms on shoppers. The key technology advantage of their algorithms over others is that their system works in three dimensions. It models the shopper, and as it does so, can track them regardless of angle, with a high degree of accuracy. It doesn't need you to look directly at a camera to recognise you, rather it models the scene from multiple angles and fingerprints your general shape. That team is dedicated to privacy – in a way citizens of Eastern Europe are. They have recent memories of a different governance style. The only thing preventing their technology from tracking individual people across a network is legislative and moral – not technical.

Finally, there's a system being trialled on emergency services in the US and UK that listens to calls and begins diagnosing the situation based on vocal stress patterns and audio content. Pair that with Alexa, and you have a system that is always aware of your health. Or domestic violence. Or child abuse. Or gunshots. Or marijuana use. Or anti-government speech.

As I review these other technologies in my head, it strikes me that actually, the retinal scanner encountered at the airport is minimally a technology programme. There's a lot of different options for biometric identification.

As mentioned, that information can be captured in a number of different ways. Ways that are less intrusive. If one really wanted to keep an airport secure, you could actually do it more effectively with a series of biometric systems. Start with a broad camera system that matches a person to their passport when its first scanned. Take the retinal scans later, when they go through security. If what you were really interested was making sure that the person getting on the plane is the person getting off the plane on the way back, there are a number of highly effective ways to do so with minimal intrusion.

(If you want to keep up on the R&D state of exponential technologies, I suggest you subscribe to Azeem's Exponential View here. Retinal scanners are going to be the least of your worries!)

In this case, they have gone for maximal accuracy, and also maximum intrusion. A high-quality direct retinal scan, combined with military security. Building a database of citizens as they exit the country. Showing force as that is done.

I've said this for a number of years here about technology and governance. The technology is never the problem. We are reaching a point of exponential technology growth.

What concerns people is the governance of technology. Iris scanning has been in airports for a number of years, and I've not seen too much grief about it. However, now paired with an aggressive administration that openly violates American legal tradition, we begin to get concerned. When confronted with military troops and a retinal scanner in an airport – when we see decisions made manifest in our own lives – that is when we feel the cold hand of technology wrapping around us. Only, that's not what we have to be concerned about.

I wrote a piece last week about technology reaching the point where it can directly modify our brains. Where it can shape our minds without us being aware.

Without strong governance, we have no chance of protecting our individual rights and way of life. Indeed, our lives may be enabled and shaped by technology, but they're ultimately created by governance.
posted by nickrussell at 8:11 AM on February 27, 2017 [50 favorites]


I've decided I'm going to take my HP Veer with me as my only phone when I need to travel.

*Pats disused Pre3 lovingly*


Oh, man. I have a Palm Treo in a drawer somewhere.

This could become a thing.

(Also, I'm now posting in this thread from my fifth airport of the day (check them logs, Cortex!). Is this some kind of metaponymousuffleupagus or something?)
posted by rokusan at 8:14 AM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


Don't wipe your devices because they might spend an hour annoying you, and might but probably won't confiscate your wiped devices, and there's a slight possibility (with no evidence this has actually happened) they could pursue some sort of additional investigation against you in the future, some day, with no details or plausible mechanism by which this could happen?

No thanks. If giving up all claims to personal liberty is the price of not accepting a one in thousands chance at losing a three year old cell phone, then only a fool, or someone with a lot more personal stake at risk than me, would pay it.
The price is not, "losing a three year old cell phone," it's "losing a three year old cell phone and then being denied entry and summarily deported". Unless you think the only people entering the US are already US citizens. It's also strange that you equate this particularly terrible phone-wiping advice with "giving up all claims to personal liberty". Saying "don't do this dumb thing" doesn't preclude taking other measures to protect whatever it is that you deem valuable.
The rest is bunk, unless you're actually a member of a vulnerable or suspect population.
That's one hell of a qualification. Yes, of course if you're a US-born citizen, white, male, cis, hetero, etc., etc., you have comparatively little to worry about from US customs when trying to enter the country. You could probably run around sounding an air horn screaming "SEARCH ME! SEARCH ME!" and get along fine. This is not a terribly useful statement for the rest of us.
posted by indubitable at 8:15 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Uh. Is there anyway to leave the country at all and not give up all your data forever and ever to the US government?
posted by schadenfrau at 8:29 AM on February 27, 2017


The rest is bunk, unless you're actually a member of a vulnerable or suspect population.

That's one hell of a qualification. Yes, of course if you're a US-born citizen, white, male, cis, hetero, etc., etc., you have comparatively little to worry about from US customs when trying to enter the country. You could probably run around sounding an air horn screaming "SEARCH ME! SEARCH ME!" and get along fine. This is not a terribly useful statement for the rest of us.

Physical attributes are quite blunt. Beware of cognitive discrimination. Your tweets fit the pattern of a terrorist. Your mobile location patterns look like a drug user. Your Instagram matches the violent offender pattern...
posted by nickrussell at 8:30 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


they are reportedly not actually using your phone to inspect your data, but instead imaging its storage and checking it on their own machines, as well as using any passwords, etc. they find to search e-mails and social media even if not stored on your phone.

So, the Stop Fabricating Travel Security Advice article had a lot of advice that basically says, "Comply, citizen!" I (privileged, with relatively little to hide other than a Twitter full of swearing at the Trump administration) would prefer not give CBP all my digital life. So what's the option? Uninstall the FB, Twitter, and gmail apps? Leave my work email and LinkedIn for them to poke around in? How long before they decide they need access to the Chase app on my phone to make sure my financial transactions are in order?
posted by Existential Dread at 8:38 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


That's one hell of a qualification. Yes, of course if you're a US-born citizen, white, male, cis, hetero, etc., etc., you have comparatively little to worry about from US customs when trying to enter the country. You could probably run around sounding an air horn screaming "SEARCH ME! SEARCH ME!" and get along fine. This is not a terribly useful statement for the rest of us.
No question. I agree, and I apologize for being less explicit about my contention that resisting unreasonable US border security is a game that only makes sense for US citizens with resources, no short-term family commitments, flexible work hours, and the ability to spend three days in a cell and tens of thousands of dollars on attorney's fees at a moment's notice for an ideological cause with no actual consequence. (I'm not entirely convinced gender comes into this - a rich white lady from Dubuque would, I suspect, be just as well positioned to throw a ball bearing into the machine as me, and she'd make for better press.) But, there are a whole lot of people crossing the US border who enjoy the same status. And encouraging them to play along doesn't make the world a better place.

None the less, I absolutely agree that most people on the planet would risk actual consequences if they tried this sort of thing. I've the utmost respect for anyone who makes the choice to comply.
posted by eotvos at 8:47 AM on February 27, 2017


So what's the option? Uninstall the FB, Twitter, and gmail apps? Leave my work email and LinkedIn for them to poke around in?

Yeah, I'm interested in commonsense approaches to this, too. 2-factor authentication would seem to be one barrier, and for infrequent travelers maybe switching your account passwords to an "I'm flying today!" password, then changing it again after you leave the airport. That at least would limit the access window, no?
posted by deludingmyself at 8:50 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Fake having your bottom pinched as if Michael Hordern had just gone past in Up Pompeii.

I can't recall exactly what show it was, but I'm pretty sure it was at Great Woods, MA where the venue-security douchebag was giving me extreme-vetting, and I sorta wiggled my hips and voila! my shorts went down to my sneakers, to every appearance him 'pantsing' me.

The actual-Massachusetts cop watching almost peed his pants laughing.
posted by mikelieman at 8:56 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Can we maybe stop making jokes about sexual menace at security points? Not actually a joke for oh about half the population
posted by schadenfrau at 8:57 AM on February 27, 2017 [15 favorites]


As a guy who works IT and often has IT level sensitive data on my phone I'm curious about the whole IP and NDA aspect here.

My company's data security policy dictates that I have a password on my phone, that it be encrypted, and that I am in violation of that policy and at risk of losing my job if I give out my password to anyone.

So what's the deal here? i mean, clearly the current interpretation of the law is that CBP can demand full access to my phone, copy my passwords into their databases (hope their data is secure, because if they get a breach there go a lot of passwords), and that if I fail to comply I risk losing the device, losing my right to travel, and possibly even risk jail time. If I do comply I'm in violation of my employer's policy and likely to get fired.

What about people who have **REAL** trade secrets and suchlike, are they just fucked, are they required by law to simply trust that the random mall cop reject will keep their data secure, or what?
posted by sotonohito at 8:59 AM on February 27, 2017 [17 favorites]


Your company needs an *airport* data security policy, asap.
posted by storybored at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


I haven't traveled internationally for a number of years, but fly within the US maybe half a dozen times a year. About a year after they were introduced, the porno-scanners started picking up the dressing I wear for the chronic wound on the back of my thigh (a lymphedema related to my Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome). After a particularly aggressive TSA agent gripped my thigh really hard in the follow-up pat-down (causing me to cry out in pain and almost fall over), I've taken to being as proactive as I can about telling people what the story is, what the scanner is seeing, all that stuff. Nevertheless, last summer as I was going through the checkpoint in my home airport, I ended up having to go in the back room and take my pants down for the agents to show them the wound and the bloody dressing (the area seeps lymph and blood on a more-or-less constant basis; hence the dressing).

So now I figure I may as well opt out every time, because i'm going to have to deal with the thorough pat-down anyway.

But I think it kinda sucks that I now think about whether or not I was required to remove my pants when answering the question "How was your trip?"
posted by nickmark at 10:08 AM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


storybored, I'm fairly sure that my employer wouldn't fire me, but the fact remains that there really is genuinely sensitive corporate data out there. And regrettably our government seems a lot more concerned about corporate privacy than human privacy.

Is there a loophole for corporate types? If so can we mere humans exploit it?
posted by sotonohito at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2017


I mean, I am currently unemployed and have no desire or plans to travel home to the US, so it's easy for me to opt out of subjecting myself to ridiculous procedures under an Asshat administration. But given a hard time is being given even to people who are not minorities, enough where I expect a loyalty oath being asked to anyone entering the country--don't like our president? You probably don't need to come into the US--I will absolutely understand if travelers don't want to play cloak and dagger just to have a reasonable expectation of privacy to be in the country. I am not buying a burner phone, or wiping my own phone, or any other device because that signals to me that I am not welcome. Or I am if I am only properly subservient.
posted by Kitteh at 10:19 AM on February 27, 2017


storybored, I'm fairly sure that my employer wouldn't fire me...

Whoops, sorry, I should have been more specific. I'm sure you wouldn't get fired, what I was suggesting was that your company needs to extend its security policy to cover airport situations.
Companies with sensitive information to protect need to figure this out.
posted by storybored at 10:23 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


My multinational corporate employer has had an airport data policy for some time (many years). It's basically "do whatever they tell you, don't be a hero, and if you think someone from outside the company got a look at your data, tell our security ops staff what you think they saw/took as soon as you possibly can." I can't imagine any other policy being approved by corporate lawyers.
posted by potrzebie at 10:46 AM on February 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


So would it be ok to:

Use a burner phone with nothing/nearly nothing on it for travel
Not take a laptop at all

...would that just make you Look Suspicious? We are likely to be traveling sometime soon and I have no desire for CPB to get all my social media/email passwords.

Someone mentioned in a discussion elsewhere that, at least at borders, if you had no devices that they would make you log in to your social media on their computers. Which is horrifying.

The only way I could think of to counteract that, (understanding that this would piss them off) would be to change my passwords to a random-generated password of numbers and letters before I leave, write that down, and leave it at home, making me unable to log in till I got back home. But again: that would almost certainly piss them off.
posted by emjaybee at 11:30 AM on February 27, 2017


Awaiting the TSA equivalent of swatting -- just googlebomb people so they appear to be Hezbollah agents, and create fake FB profiles. Hopefully someone does it to prominent NRA members first.
posted by benzenedream at 12:01 PM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


Lock eyes with him and give him your best unblinking rictus grin, optionally with the occasional pleased sigh. We probably can't beat the system, but we can make sure the cogs in this terrible machine are having days at least as bad as we are.

I don't usually opt out but the sweat from wearing my backpack will almost always trigger a pat down. This uncomfortableness from the TSA guy ratchets up quite a bit when you're wearing fetishy items that are only detectable by touch.
posted by Buy Sockpuppet Bonds! at 12:01 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Is there a loophole for corporate types? If so can we mere humans exploit it?


Since NASA JPL scientists don't get a pass, I'm not liking your odds.
posted by Pryde at 12:05 PM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


fta:The point is that it happened without any change in the laws or regulations.

Well...yeah.
The border is all about loopholes and ambiguity.

The only possible good thus far I could accuse Trump of is actually picking a direction on immigration (say what you will about fascism, at least it's an ethos).
Sure collecting your data is a side bonus. But the big thing is deflecting responsibility for coercive actions.

I mean, they can't really legally collect your biometric data or make you unlock your phone or computer, give up your data, all that.
But they can ask you to comply voluntarily and make life (and traveling) hard for you if you don't.

The question being, to what end. Before now it's mostly been to exploit laborers. Now it's sort of an demonisation ideology.

And I think that's the struggle right now. Evil corruption fighting stupid corruption to instill order in an otherwise ambiguous corruption.

You look at Trump talking about Sweden. One of the most equal nations with also the least corruption. That's not a mistake.


I wrote a piece last week about technology reaching the point where it can directly modify our brains. Where it can shape our minds without us being aware.

I think you've cross-wired the Zimbardo experiment with the AI box experiment.
It's sort of the availability heuristic as applied to politics/PR through deep learning.

yeah...fuck.

Corruption drives inequality. And vice versa. Corruption by cyber-augmented systems and self-fulfilling ideology driven by fewer and fewer elites ...wow.


Still, humans are involved. It can only become so efficient and complex.
And sometimes the enemy of high level corruption is often low level corruption.

My uncle crossed the border with a bunch of cigars. The guard said "I think we have a problem with the paperwork." He slipped him a $20 and asked "Does this paperwork take care of the problem?" The guard said "Yeah, this takes care of the problem."
posted by Smedleyman at 1:09 PM on February 27, 2017


Someone mentioned in a discussion elsewhere that, at least at borders, if you had no devices that they would make you log in to your social media on their computers. Which is horrifying.

Seriously? Is that for real? WTF. Would someone please confirm this?

Re - travelling with sensitive corporate data... the answer is - don't, if it's truly that sensitive. The company should have some sorta secure server/VPN arrangement, that you can access at your destination.
posted by Artful Codger at 2:38 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


But then can't they just force you to log in to your VPN?
posted by Pyry at 2:44 PM on February 27, 2017


Well, that's what I'm seeking confirmation on. I understand that the battle re devices you're carrying is lost: You Must Obey and let them into the device. But to just be able to demand you to do stuff? What's next - access to your online banking? Little cubicles for waterboarding?
posted by Artful Codger at 2:48 PM on February 27, 2017


And what about those of us who don't have social media accounts? I went dark during gamergate and haven't used any of those accounts since then. I have a Twitter account that pretty much is only followed by old mefites who knew my previous incarnation here, but that's it. No linked in, no facebook, no histogram, snap chat, nothing.

Also, current court ruling is that you can be compelled to unlock your phone, only if they have a warrant, as it's been explained to me, but ianal. https://consumerist.com/2016/12/13/...
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 3:05 PM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


I don't think I have any social media accounts. Does Metafilter count?
posted by ryanrs at 4:07 PM on February 27, 2017


Yes. Please bring your account to a stop and prepare to have your posts searched for anything subversive.
posted by Pyry at 4:10 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Also my phone is a six-year-old iphone 4 with no apps except openvpn, which connects to a server I control. Also there are some random photos and a handful of phone contacts. It does not sync with my email or any cloud-based whatever.

I suppose all this screams "burner phone." But it's really my normal (and only) phone that I've been using for years. I just don't give a shit about social media whatever, or even telephony in general.

This sort of feels like The Pedestrian, except instead of walking, the government is hassling me because my iphone is too old and doesn't have enough apps installed.

Is this kind of thing really, actually happening? Or is it mostly the sort of dystopian fantasizing that sometimes afflicts metafilter threads?
posted by ryanrs at 4:29 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


(I also do not own a TV. Send a mefi mail to subscribe to my newsletter.)
posted by ryanrs at 4:31 PM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


Awaiting the TSA equivalent of swatting -- just googlebomb people so they appear to be Hezbollah agents, and create fake FB profiles. Hopefully someone does it to prominent NRA members first.

This... is kind of brilliant.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:06 PM on February 27, 2017


yeah you could make a fake fb profile of the nra guy posing with assault rifles and pistols
posted by ryanrs at 5:08 PM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Actually, polluting the data stream may be the most effective way to bring this process to its knees. Especially if the first targets are high profile or high media scoring, like the nra spokesperson, or congress people.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:45 PM on February 27, 2017


Do you really think immigration makes congressmen unlock their phones?
posted by ryanrs at 5:49 PM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]




Because we all know that the most treacherous and committed jihadis post the details of their intended perfidy on Facebook and Twitter.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:20 PM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Do you really think immigration makes congressmen unlock their phones?
Only the brown ones.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:44 AM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Doesn't really work for women.

If they are following their own rules, you are to be groped by a woman. Not so helpful for non-binary folks, I know. :(

This shit is why I don't fly any more, at least not on airlines. Not that I have much opportunity to fly with friends/on the company plane any more, which is itself sad. I love being in the air. Guess I need to get a PPL one of these days. That will "only" cost $8000. Sigh.
posted by wierdo at 5:57 AM on February 28, 2017


This information is from the Foundation for Economic Education. It is a Koch brothers funded 501(c)3 educational foundation based in Atlanta, Georgia. All reports on the internet of this incident emanate from fee.org. There is no independent verification.
posted by ObeyDefy at 7:00 AM on February 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


That will "only" cost $8000.

And $200/hr to operate the plane.
posted by hwyengr at 8:58 AM on February 28, 2017


rokusan: "You concur so quickly I can't even fix my typos in time, Samizdata.

In my defense, I'm on a plane. On my phone. Drunk. Business as usual, basically.
"

Sorry, but when you are right, you are right, Titivillus notwithstanding.

(Thanks again, MetaFilter for introducing me to Titivillus!)
posted by Samizdata at 1:37 PM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Jon Mitchell: "with an impressive mustache named Clarence

As any serious mustache aficionado will tell you, almost all mustaches are named Clarence. Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck's are, at least.
"

Mine is not. It's just Bob. He is a plain, hardworking mustache, with simple needs and a simple creed of self-growth at all costs. His indisputable optimism and dedication makes me feel guilty every time I go around the trimmers.
posted by Samizdata at 1:40 PM on February 28, 2017


Mayor West: "All of you who don't opt out of the pornoscanner are missing a golden opportunity. Anecdotally, I've discovered that the overlap between "homophobic assholes who couldn't pass police academy" and "TSA checkpoints guards" is remarkably high, so when you opt out and get a visibly uncomfortable guard patting you down, there's your chance. Lock eyes with him and give him your best unblinking rictus grin, optionally with the occasional pleased sigh. We probably can't beat the system, but we can make sure the cogs in this terrible machine are having days at least as bad as we are."

Can I blow them a kiss too?
posted by Samizdata at 1:44 PM on February 28, 2017


I don't claim to offer a universal set of guidelines for dealing with airport security, customs, etc. But if you fear being persecuted for not bringing your usual favorite cellphones and computing equipment on your trip, or you want to speak out against being expected to give full access to your devices and data, here are a few references you might want to print out and bring.

Reasons not to bring your fancy devices on your international trip:

- http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/technology/electronic-security-a-worry-in-an-age-of-digital-espionage.html
Professional experts on computer security and infosec recommend against bringing your cellphones and computers to countries such as the People's Republic of China, because those countries' governments have espionage programs to gain intelligence by hacking travelers' equipment. Travelers should assume their devices will be hacked; standard practice in communities needing to value security is to discard/destroy their devices upon leaving the PRC.

- Any sufficiently realistic traveler knows that fancy electronics are at high risk of being stolen in many Third World countries, and that much of Europe has skilled professional thieves who prey on travelers. (Sorry, I didn't look up references for this common knowledge.)

Evidence that the U.S. Federal Government is not necessarily sufficiently able to guard your sensitive information that outsiders are very highly motivated to steal:

- https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/federal-eye/wp/2015/07/09/hack-of-security-clearance-system-affected-21-5-million-people-federal-authorities-say/
If you applied for a security clearance, hackers operating from China have a lot of information about you and about people connected with you--because they got it from the U.S. government's records about your application.

After you print these out, you can do your own highlighting.

Seriously, if these government agencies want to tell their employees to look at our data, they should get to see the most relevant data we can show them about protecting national security. :-)

Whenever a government insists that sensitive information be surrendered to it and gathered into one treasure trove, that provides opportunities for foreign governments which were not in a position to enforce the gathering of the information, but which can now try to steal it from the place where it is concentrated.
posted by cattypist at 1:58 PM on February 28, 2017


And $200/hr to operate the plane.

Nah, I can rent a 152 for $80 an hour wet or a 172 for $120, and that's in a relatively high cost area. In all fairness, the per mile cost ends up being about the same regardless. A plane that is twice as fast is almost always twice the price per hour, assuming similar age/equipment/useful load.

Sadly, those costs are not commensurately lower in areas with lower cost of living. Where I used to live, aircraft rented for maybe 15-20% less, but the cost of living and the paychecks were 40% less.

It isn't even in the same ballpark as the cost of a commercial flight, but I'd rather take one trip a year rather than five if it means I don't have to submit to being groped, poked, prodded, and generally treated like a goddamned criminal. Just gotta get over that initial hump one of these days.
posted by wierdo at 3:01 PM on March 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


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