Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘airport security

Airport Security contradictions

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I was not at all surprised to read this article today: in fact I had been discussing something along these lines over the weekend.

I bought an airline ticket over the web. I checked in on the web.  Not once, anywhere, was I asked for identification.  Realistically, I could have been anyone.

We have these wonderful new machines to scan travellers, yet we don’t check their identity?  Something, somewhere, just doesn’t make sense. 

Yes, I know, I used my credit card to buy my ticket.  So?  There is no such thing as credit card fraud?  When did that miraculously happen?

Personally, I’d rather know that someone in authority actually had checked WHO was on my flight.

Not to mention the “I am so special” passenger in front of me today who didn’t want to follow civil aviation regulations and stow his bag as required. Row 1 of the plane – so no “seat in front of you” for him.  Just who did he think he was?  First he argued with the cabin crew before takeoff, then prior to landing he shoved his bag under his seat, which is where MY bags were correctly stowed.  He pushed my stuff out from where it should have been.  Jetstar, take note: watch your passengers as they shouldn’t be allowed to inconvenience other passengers.  Not only that, stuff fell out of his bag and rolled backwards down the plane, including Lynx deodorant – I hope it wasn’t an aerosol!

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Written by Robyn Dunphy

January 9, 2011 at 10:31 pm

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Scanners = child porn?

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A little dramatic?  Not according to one mother in the USA.

The scanner debate in the USA continues to heat up as reported in The Australian today.  Search YouTube and there is an abundance of anger and fear about not only the scanners, but the “enhanced” pat-downs.

This woman was very (and I believe very rightly) perturbed when her 12 year-old daughter was put through the scanner.  Watching this YouTube video, I learnt more about the technology I didn’t know.  It is disturbing.  The TSA are in a locked room until the images are deleted.  So in other words, their behaviour while in that room is hidden – or are the TSA agents also monitored?  The whole thing starts to become rather scary if you think too much about it.

Yesterday I asked the question about safety.  The above linked article from The Australian reports several people are asking the same questions:

Some opponents of the scanners claim they pose a health risk, despite checks carried out by the Food and Drug Administration and Johns Hopkins University.

They point to a letter from four scientists at the University of California, who wrote to the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy expressing “serious concerns about the potential health risks” and calling for a new “independent evaluation”.

While we in Australia may look on and think “only in America”, how long before we have to submit Australians to the same procedures in order to fly a plane into the USA?  I recall going to the USA shortly after 9/11.  I left from Melbourne Airport.  I had to go through additional American security at the gate before boarding.  While that was dropped some time later, don’t be surprised if something similar is on the horizon.

Don’t think I’ll be flying to the USA again any time soon.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 25, 2010 at 9:08 pm

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“Safe for everyday use”? So was asbestos once…….

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I am revisiting my earlier entry about airport passenger security, simply because of the last line of an article in today’s press.

TSA chief John Pistole insists that there is no danger from radiation in the scans and that intensive searches are necessary to prevent increasingly imaginative bombers from boarding planes.

“We want to work with industry to make sure we have the safest machines available. That is the bottom line. They are safe for everyday use,” he told MSNBC television

Really?  And we know this because?  I am old enough to remember many other things that were initially considered “safe” and subsequently found not to be so.  Here’s a few high profile examples!

Anyone heard of cigarettes?  I thought so.  There used to be at least one ad on TV promoting smoking as something to cure that nagging cough.  How about “More doctors smoke Camels”?  They could have at least picked a decent brand!

Thalidomide?  Resulted in over 10,000 human birth defects.

Asbestos?  Once widely used, now a known danger!

Xrays – we are warned not to have too many a year.  Radiologists have to monitor their exposure.  Why?

We have only JUST started introducing these machines.  But we are suddenly 100% sure they are “safe for everyday use”?  Why am I sceptical?

What about very frequent fliers?  What about cabin crew and pilots? Are these safe twice a day? Twice a day once every six months? Twice a day four days in a row? Once a week?  I’d like to see some controlled testing, thanks, before I go floating through one too often.

Are they as safe for developing bodies, such as children or unborn babies?  What about women who may not yet know they are pregnant?

Are we going to see an increase in some form of cancer in 20 or 30 years time?  An increase in birth defects perhaps?

Is anyone asking, or more importantly answering, these questions?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 24, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Airport security – where DO we draw the line?

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This is an interesting problem. In case you can’t be bothered clicking on that link, a woman claims she was asked to remove and show her breast prosthesis during an “enhanced” pat-down.  The article explains an “enhanced” pat-down includes a “frisk” of one’s private parts.

On the face of it, I can understand we need security measures to take into account any prosthesis a passenger may have.  After all, should one be of an inclination to do so, one could hide all sorts of things in a prosthetic leg, arm or breast.  However, perhaps we can do it a little more discretely and with some compassion for the person.

This whole “enhanced” thing seems to be creating a bit of a stir.  Let’s look at another report, which has resulted in legal action.

“As the TSA agent was frisking plaintiff, the agent pulled the plaintiff’s blouse completely down, exposing plaintiffs’ breasts to everyone in the area,” the lawsuit said.

This was during “extended search procedures”.  Enhanced, extended – whatever!  She was 23 – I’m sure the TSA agent would not have been as keen to pull open my blouse (age has some benefits, I see).

Both of the above situations were in the USA, but how long before Australia follows the leader?  Besides, airline security really is an international responsibility these days – can we have different policies and procedures in different countries and still have effective security?

While no, I do not want to be in a plane that explodes half way across the Atlantic or the Pacific and yes, I do expect our governments to provide suitable security measures to prevent such an event, I do not expect to be embarrassed or humiliated during a screening process.  Surely frisking of private parts can be reserved for those where a real suspicion exists (based on initial investigations of a less intrusive nature), not just for the average traveller.  Is there any age limit on this particular type of frisking is one question that springs to mind.  What about children travelling unaccompanied?  Are they to be subjected to this?

Where do we draw the line?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if at some point a class action was launched in relation to airport security based on civil rights enshrined in the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights.  That covenant protects the individual, for example: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.”  Being picked out at random for an extended or enhanced (take your pick) search is surely arbitrary?  It is definitely interference with one’s privacy, although it could be argued not unlawful interference as the search is “required” by law.

Where do we draw the line?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 21, 2010 at 1:35 am