Today is the 5 year anniversary of the release of my viral video, “How to Get ANYTHING Through TSA Nude Body Scanners,” which was covered by the media in over 100 countries and moved me to #1 on the TSA’s list of “people they don’t like,” probably just above Osama bin Laden and the members of Nickelback. After its release, the video was presented to state legislatures and U.S. Congress, the science confirmed by university researches, and the TSA has worked hard to ignore my findings and silence the media.
Does the problem I found in 2012 still exist in 2017? In the words of Sarah Palin, “You betcha!”
The TSA would love for the public to believe that their latest-gen scanners made my work obsolete, but the fact of the matter is that fixing the problem would require a visible hardware or process change, not a stealthy software change (watch me beat a L3 ProVision with ATD, the model currently in use at most airports). They haven’t done this because every fix has a drawback. On the hardware side, the TSA could implement add transmission x-rays to the backscatter x-rays (dangerous) or could make the booth completely enclosed for a 360° scan (making the process a claustrophobia-inducing nightmare). On the process side, they could scan passengers twice, requiring them to turn 90° between scans (doubling the processing time and crippling our nation’s air transportation system, and exposing us to twice the radiation). Having done none of the above, I have every reason to believe that the same exploit would work today.
At least the TSA has started to take some of my advice. For example, at MSP, JFK T4, and a few other airports, they have bomb-sniffing dogs (but they get ornery when you try to take their pictures), and all passengers who walk by a dog are given PreCheck treatment (no body scanner). They could also do an explosive trace swab on passengers as they wait in line at a fairly minimal cost (at least an order of magnitude less than the cost of the body scanner program), and then direct all of those passengers to PreCheck-style treatment.
But alas, that’s not as cool, as the TSA doesn’t get to spend billions on shiny new toys, so like a passive-aggressive child told to eat his peas who then eats them one at a time, we can expect any change with the TSA to come in small increments, and generally attached to additional stupidity.
“Jon Corbett is a civil rights advocate known for filing the first lawsuit against the deployment of TSA nude body scanners, as well as defeating the body scanners live in ‘How to Get ANYTHING Through TSA Nude Body Scanners.’ Presently a law student, he continues to advocate for travel and privacy rights. Twitter: @_JonCorbett, Web:https://professional-troublemaker.com/“
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The L3 doesn’t use X-rays. It uses radio waves on the millimeter spectrum.
Yes, but no one here said they were x-rays.
(In clarification, I said they could add transmission x-rays because there are no such thing as transmission millimetre waves. They are incapable of fully penetrating the body.)
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I had no idea how invasive those scanners are. Now I do thanks to some research online and through finding your blog. Just had my first body scan experience yesterday and I felt completely violated. First off, thank you Jon for letting us know our rights when dealing with TSA “security.” I loved that recent post. The TSA sure never posts those rights as the more ignorant the public is, the better for it is for them to continue harassing us, unfettered. I will definitely be asserting these rights in the future.
Secondly, thank you for being so active in fighting this injustice. It seems most activists have given up the fight with the TSA. I couldn’t find any post or article about this issue that wasn’t at least 5 years old. I was SO happy when I found you are still in the brawl. I’m with you and I know I’m not alone. But I’m sad to see so many of us Americans submitting to these infringements on our freedoms for the sake of so-called “security.”
I will certainly be opting out in the future, assuming I fly again in the face of this fiasco.
Keep up the amazing work Jon!