Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged Travel

From TSA Watch:

We are seeking funds to start a National Watchdog Group that will force the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) to clean up their act.

We are a Citizen Watchdog Group, working to protect traveler rights and dignity from abuses by the TSA. We strive to ensure no violations go unreported and grievances are addressed and redressed.

Mission Statement: TSA Watch is a new membership organization being built to will serve the traveling public, American Citizens and Visitors, by working to ensure personal liberty is not sacrificed in the pursuit of national security. For the first time the public will work together in increasing numbers to watch the TSA and make sure all violations are reported. Members and other travelers will enjoy a centralized place to share their own complaints about the TSA, get help with filing official complaints with the TSA itself, and work together to seek redress of grievances and a halt to TSA’s worst patterns of violating human rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.

Long Description:

TSA Watch will become the “go to” organization for Citizens and guests to address their concerns with the US Transportation Security Administration, the TSA.

For those who don’t know, the TSA is the organization that conducts most screening and searches of air travelers, and increasingly travelers of every modality.

While we prepare the infrastructure for the launch of our fully functional watchdog group, with all of it’s features, this Facebook page will serve as a forum for those who wish to share their TSA experiences publicly. We will also share news, videos and other information pertaining to TSA misbehavior.

Please feel free to share your tales of TSA mistreatment as comments, which will be curated and then made public.

Discussion:
Currently, there are numerous violations being reported in a haphazard manner across the Internet, but there is no one place to collect this information and do something about it. Complaints vary, but the top six areas of complaint include:

1. Lack of accomodation in security screening for travelers with documented medical conditions that routinely trigger in depth scans,
2. Theft of personal property,
3. Damage to personal property,
4. Sexual violations by TSA Agents groping the breasts, genitals, and other private areas of a person’s body,
5. Abusive language and attitude directed by the agents to people, and
6. Arbitrary delay of travelers making them miss their connections, which leads to lost work, happiness, and opportunity.

We will address these violations by:
1) creating TSA Watch, a new national membership organization
2) bringing to light the frequent violations of traveler’s person, property, and dignity currently made by TSA personnel,
3) by documenting patterns of these abuses,
4) by bringing further light through investigation of those TSA divisions and personal making the most egregious violations, and
5) bringing public scrutiny to these abuses through every medium we can.

The group has a go fund me page to raise support.

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In response to evolving terrorist threats, including non-metallic explosive devices and weapons, the U.S. TSA has adopted full-body scanners as the primary passenger screening method at nearly 160 airports nationwide at a cost exceeding $1 billion. Although full-body scanners play a critical role in transportation security, they have generated considerable controversy, including claims that the devices are unsafe, violate privacy and civil liberties, and are ineffective. Furthermore, these scanners are complex embedded systems that raise important computer security questions.

Despite such concerns, neither the manufacturers nor the government have disclosed enough technical details to allow for rigorous independent evaluation, on the grounds that such information could benefit attackers, or is a trade secret. To help advance the public debate, we purchased a government-surplus Rapiscan Secure 1000 full-body scanner and performed a detailed security evaluation of its hardware and software.

Source.

Video.

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TSA uniform

Alexandra Schmid was convicted Friday in the Queens Supreme Court of stealing money from passengers’ luggage at Kennedy Airport.

Alexandra Schmid was working as a Transportation Security Administration officer when Dr. Imrana Ali and her family were boarding a flight to India on Dec. 9, 2011, officials said.

Schmid, 34, separated Ali’s family from their luggage for 15 minutes. When they got their belongings back, Schmid bizarrely insisted she never touched their stuff, according to prosecutors.

The family had to rush to make their flight. Once on board they discovered $6,000 in cash was missing from Ali’s husband’s jacket pocket, officials said.

A month later, Schmid ripped off another passenger headed to India, prosecutors said.

As she screened Rahat Mohammed Shimul and his mother on Jan. 5, 2012, Shimul alerted the her his mother’s purse contained $4,000 in cash.

Schmid briefly left the area with the purse, then returned it with the cash missing.

She accused Shimul of stealing the cash from his own mother when he complained to her it was missing, officials said.

Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Joel Blumenfeld found Schmid guilty of grand larceny, possession of stolen property and official misconduct Friday following a four-week trial, officials said.

“It is particularly troubling that someone hired to ensure the safety and security of our nation’s airlines and to protect all of us from terrorism would stoop to stealing from those she is supposed to protect,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.

Sentencing is set for March 13, 2015. Schmid faces up to 14 years in prison for her actions.

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From BlackHat:

Every day, millions of people go through airport security. While it is an inconvenience that could take a while, most are willing to follow the necessary procedures if it can guarantee their safety. Modern airport security checkpoints use sophisticated technology to help the security screeners identify potential threats and suspicious baggage.

Have you ever wondered how these devices work? Have you ever wondered why an airport security checkpoint was set up in a particular configuration? Join us as we present the details on how a variety of airport security systems actually work, and reveal their weaknesses. We’ll present what we have learned about modern airport security procedures, dive deep into the devices used to detect threats, and we’ll present some the bugs we discovered along the way.

If you’d like the pdf slides from the presentation, they are embedded below.

Download (PDF, 7.56MB)

Video.

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Chicago police have announced they plan to stop rush hour public transit riders before they pass through turnstiles and screen their bags for explosives. There is no threat. The police see this as a proactive approach to terrorism that doesn’t exist.

There is “no known terrorist threat” that prompted the new procedure slated to begin the week of Nov. 3, Nancy Lipman, Chicago police commander for public transportation, said Friday at a news conference announcing the initiative.

So, there is no threat, yet the city of Chicago is going to toss out civil liberties just because they can.

Chicago police spokesman Marty Maloney says the security measure is a “proactive, protective measure.”

Proactive and protective of whom? There is no threat.

“We know that surface transportation has been targeted in other places in the past [Madrid, New York, London, Russia] and want to take whatever precautions possible,” Maloney told RedEye.

So, surface transportation has been targeted in one other American city, but three others in Europe are being tossed in to add a fear factor and justification for the city of Chicago.

Amtrak and the New York City and Washington transit stations employ a similar screening measure, Lipman said.

This is akin to, “if all your other friends are doing it, you might as well do it, too.”

Chicago police say they will randomly select one rail station each day to set up the screening table outside the rail turnstiles during rush hour. Lipman said most of the stations will be downtown but other stops will be included as well.

Soon after the tables are put up, thousands of people will find out about it via the Internet and newly created apps and most people will avoid this stop.

A team of four to five officers will man the table, which will have two explosives testing machines.

Police will approach riders, whom they have randomly selected by picking a random number that morning, Lipman said.

For example, if police pick the number 10, they will ask the 10th person who enters the station, then the 20th and so on, Lipman said.

Police say they will swab the outside of the bags but will not open them during the test.

They won’t open them, for now. As soon as everyone complies with this “randomness” the test will require searches of bags.

Riders who pass the test are free to enter the turnstiles. Officers will ask to inspect the bags of riders who fail the test. Police say the machines are testing the presence of explosives, not drugs.

Again, for now. This has been done before.

The whole process should take “less than a minute,” Lipman said during the Friday press conference at the Clinton stop on the Green and Pink lines. “We expect it to have no impact on a customer’s commute time.”

Riders who refuse to have their bag swabbed won’t be allowed to get on the train—in fact they’ll be ordered to leave the station. But they can head to another station to board the train, police said.

Because this is being done during rush hour, it will probably be just as easy to leave the train station and return a few moments later and the police won’t notice simply because there’s too many people.

Or, if police suspect the rider is involved in “further suspicious activity, and if we determine that probable cause exists to stop him/her for questioning, we might do so,” Maloney said.

“Further suspicious activity” is conveniently not described and intentionally vague. All for your safety of course. This won’t be abused.

Riders who say no to the swabbing but try to enter that station’s turnstiles face arrest, police say.

And your free movement within the United States is restricted in the name of a non-existent threat to your safety.

The screenings at stations will occur “several times a week,” police said.

Good luck, Chicago. Please fight against this ridiculousness.

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