Loss of Privacy

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

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TSA uniform

The Intercept reports that the TSA, who is supposed to be looking after our transportation systems, has moved into theme parks looking for terrorists.

Yes, the Transportation Security Administration’s embattled $900 million behavior detection program, called Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, is not just used at airports. It’s also used at theme parks.

TSA has trained security teams from SeaWorld, Disney World and Busch Gardens to use the same checklist of behavior indicators, which includes “wearing a disguise,” “whistling,” “exaggerated yawning” and “excessive laughter,” according to interviews and documents obtained by The Intercept.

In March, The Intercept published the now widely ridiculed 92-item checklist of behavior indicators used by TSA’s behavior detection officers at airports around the country. The SPOT program, now referred to by TSA as the Behavior Detection Analysis program, has been the subject of several audits and reviews by oversight agencies and congressional committees, which have criticized the program’s methodology and scientific basis.

The SPOT program has never been effective, no matter what name they want to call it. The GAO said it didn’t work in 2011. The DHS Inspector General said it was useless and ineffective in 2013. It has failed to identify any terrorists and has been under scrutiny since its inception having failed to ever improve.

“They have plainclothes people at SeaWorld and Disney doing the same behavior detection, looking for the same indicators we look for at the airport,” a source told The Intercept.

Apparently, just stepping inside a Disney theme park makes you a terrorist. If you go there, don’t have fun. Anything you say or do will probably put you on a list somewhere.

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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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