Removing Belts at Airport Security

The TSA is making us remove our belts even when we don't have to.

European airports have made us remove our belts for years. My normal tactic is to pull my shirt tails out of my pants and over my belt. Then I flash my waist and tell them I'm not wearing a belt. It doesn't set off the metal detector, so they don't notice.

Posted on November 10, 2010 at 1:41 PM • 97 Comments

Comments

MikeNovember 10, 2010 1:50 PM

TSA (peers at boarding pass): "Mr. Schneier is it?"

Bruce: "Yes"

TSA (peers at computer screen); "Right this way sir..." (snaps rubber glove on).

First rule of fooling the TSA goons....don't talk about it...

timNovember 10, 2010 1:51 PM

Both my belts and shoes set off the detector - so my response has been to not wear a belt and where flip-flops when travelling. Takes 3 minutes to get through security no matter what airport.

I've also taken to only bringing my iPad with me instead of a full laptop now that TSA is consistently (key word here) not forcing me to take it out of my backpack.

All completely silly.

JoeNovember 10, 2010 1:52 PM

Well before the TSA, whenever your belt buckle activated the metal detector the screeners would have you twist and hold your buckle horizontal and walk through again, easily bypassed detection. Times have changed.

derfNovember 10, 2010 1:55 PM

Land of the Free? Nope.
Have you been through a TSA checkpoint lately?

Home of the brave? Nope.
We're not even brave enough to stand up to our own governmental stupidity.

GregNovember 10, 2010 1:55 PM

The TSA agents were befuddled by the glimpse of Schneier's manly and muscular abdominals. Chuck Norris also never has to take off his belt.

RalphNovember 10, 2010 1:57 PM

When someone gets something past the new x-ray & whatever machines, will TSA start probing every orifice? What a waste of time, effort & $$$.

David BlackburnNovember 10, 2010 1:57 PM

The first time I had to take my belt off I was leaving Ben-Gurion. The 19 year old with the machine gun got nervous when I started pulling down my pants too.

"What?" I asked the wildly gesticulating young man with the assault rifle.

"Just belt." he replied.

It was that day I discovered my super-power.

keithNovember 10, 2010 2:05 PM

Guy in the linked letter got what he deserved. You manipulate minions; you don't be honest with them and you don't obstruct them. That's a simple rule of life. The system won't change while idiots are directing their hostility at the wrong front.

Clive RobinsonNovember 10, 2010 2:38 PM

@ Bruce,

As you may know by know we have an expression in the UK which is "belt up" (means to keep quiet)

maybe you should have "belted up" before you made your above confession ;)

Time will tell if you get pulled asside and get SSSS tattooed across your forehead...

mooNovember 10, 2010 2:41 PM

@keith: Who are the idiots in this picture?

Is it angry passengers directing their hostility at TSA minions (rather than the governmental overlords who make such idiotic policies)?

Or is it those governmental overlords, who are directing their hostility against the shoes and belts of the travelling public, instead of doing things that would actually improve airport security (like better access controls for luggage handlers and other airport employees)?

I'm partly being facetious here, but I'm also pointing out in all seriousness the ambiguity of your post. I honestly can't imagine any possible terrorist attack (or even any dozen terrorist attacks) which is worse for the U.S. than all of the damage you are doing to yourselves since the 9/11 incident. Your tourism industry alone must lose billions of dollars every year because of all the international travellers who aren't willing to put up with all of this shit just to visit the U.S. But even if you don't care about the economic harm, or the harm to your global reputation, you should at least be worried at being systematically stripped not just of your civil liberties, but also of your dignity.

Casper BangNovember 10, 2010 2:44 PM

Odd, my experiences are that American airports makes me remove belt as well as shoes, while some man or woman in rubber gloves slides fingers halfway down my crotch. Truly not very pleasant.

CurbyNovember 10, 2010 2:53 PM

I notice that Bruce has an EFF banner in the side there. Is there some non-profit org that lobbies (with nonzero success) against security theater? It's still farting into the wind, but I feel like I should do SOMETHING.

NitrileNovember 10, 2010 2:58 PM

I always carry a tube of surgical lubricating jelly in my pocket and request secondary screening.

koshNovember 10, 2010 3:06 PM

My solution to the absurd levels of invasiveness now practiced by the TSA is to cease visiting, or transit through, the USA.

TSA = bad for tourism. Great for Skype.

GreenSquirrelNovember 10, 2010 3:06 PM

I go with the spirit of some of the comments above.

I think it is a shame that the US public has allowed itself to be so cowed by the vague threat of terrorism that they can deter income generating tourists and impede their citizens going about their lawful business.

(rant over back closer to the topic)

I've tried the pretend no belt stunt before and never even come close to getting away with it. I am jealous.

kosh againNovember 10, 2010 3:10 PM

Maybe there's a niche market for a high-security naturist airline. I'm sure the TSA would approve. Screening would be pretty easy.

SteveNovember 10, 2010 3:17 PM

These new scanners will, more than anything else, encourage a comeback in gold lamé clothing.

Scan through that, people!

If that fails, the next logical step is nudism.

Fight The PowerNovember 10, 2010 3:38 PM

why do people "praise" the low level functionaries for being sympathetic while they enforce insane, pointless, oppressive rules.

As long as people blindly follow rules they KNOW to be wrong we will live in an oppressive, wrong society.

Land of the free? Was it ever? Home of the brave? Will it ever be?

New AgeNovember 10, 2010 3:39 PM

Ah come on, don't make such a big deal out of this. Just wear those cool belts with the removable belt buckles. When they ask you to take it off just remove the buckle! The actual belt won't be setting off any alarms (unless it's a really kinky one) :P

PhillipNovember 10, 2010 3:43 PM

"Belts, it has been determined, can interfere with the images procured by the new full-body scanners being deployed at checkpoints around the country. And so, from now on, passengers need to remove them."

Translation: You can hide a knife under your belt and the multi-billion dollar body scanner can't see it. What if I hide a belt around my chest?!

ToddNovember 10, 2010 3:44 PM

For all those who suggest we rise up against the TSA and fight for our freedom and dignity, I would like to know what do you suggest we do? Write letters to our Senator? E-mail the TSA? Unfortunately this is a "minor" issued to our elected officials and one they are not willing to fight (until it impacts them personally). I am against what the TSA is doing and how they attempt to provide security, but I don't see a way to drive attention to this issue.

mcbNovember 10, 2010 3:51 PM

Introducing the new “Time of Terror” line of air traveler's jumpsuits. Comfortable and attractive, this disposable tyvek garment will be sold from dispensers next to the smartkart racks. Think of the convenience - no belt to lose, no pockets to empty, no shoes to remove, and no undergarments in which to conceal flight disrupting charges of PETN. Preprinted in the following patterns: jeans-n-tee, power suit, bereavement black, flight crew blue, and the ever popular gitmo. As an added convenience your government issued photo ID and boarding pass will be laser printed on either sleeve at the airline check-in kiosk. Remember, in a “Time of Terror” everything is simpler...

GeorgeNovember 10, 2010 4:00 PM

What the TSA doesn't seem to realize is that their continually escalating hassles only increase the power and effectiveness of terrorists. Even if a terrorist plotter fails to blow up an aircraft, he succeeds in provoking a boneheaded arse-covering reaction from the TSA that will henceforth burden every traveler.

Loss of liberty, privacy, and now bodily integrity may not be as spectacularly pleasing to Allah as burnt infidel bodies falling from the sky. But it does inflict slow enduring damage to the enemy that's surely worth a virgin or two in Paradise. With the TSA always ready to help, even failure becomes a success for terrorists.

I know that's not how we're supposed to view the TSA and its heroic officers fighting at the very front lines of the Global War on Terror. But it's a message the TSA continually sends terrorists, apparently obvious to everyone but the leaders at TSA Headquarters.

kangarooNovember 10, 2010 4:02 PM

keith: You manipulate minions; you don't be honest with them and you don't obstruct them. That's a simple rule of life. The system won't change while idiots are directing their hostility at the wrong front.

And it won't change by directing your anger at the right front either -- so you might as well vent your hostility rather than just slowly die inside.

That's a simple rule of life. And in fact, it's the little revolts that end up changing things. It's the refusal to get to the back of the bus that's the spark -- not the great committee meetings of powerful politicians, the letters to the editors or electing the Other Brand to the White House.

That's a simple rule of life. 99% of law is simply ordering people to do what they'd do anyway.

Belt and BracesNovember 10, 2010 4:15 PM

Okay, so no belts because the full-body scanner doesn't like them.

What about suspenders? Are suspenders still okay? If the metal clips are a problem, what about the traditional style with no metal, just leather end straps with buttonholes?

Eric Thomas BlackNovember 10, 2010 4:35 PM

Not to mention the idiocy of screening pilots. It isn't like they need weapons to "hijack" the plane.

Dr. TNovember 10, 2010 4:47 PM

I fully agree with George's comment.

If I ever fly again, I will use a new strategy for airport "security." I will refuse to go through the body scanner. I will put my shoes, pants, and shirt or jacket into the bins for the metal detector. I now will be wearing only a skin-tight wrestling singlet, and no frisking or pat-downs will be needed to show that I am bomb-free.

The singlet I really want to wear unfortunately is not available in my size. It is an old USSR wrestling uniform with "CCCP", the hammer and sickle, and a tank photo on the front, the Kremlin on the back, and, hilariously, ghosted images of Stalin and Lenin over the buttocks! It seems totally appropriate for tweaking the totalitarian TSA.

You can see the singlet here: http://www.usawrestlingproducts.com/modules/cart/...

JeremyNovember 10, 2010 4:53 PM

@Eric Thomas Black: "Not to mention the idiocy of screening pilots. It isn't like they need weapons to "hijack" the plane. "

Actually, screening pilots is probably a very good idea. If you don't, then you open up lots of possible attacks: terrorists disguised as pilots, terrorists threatening pilots to force them to smuggle contraband through, and pilots that willingly smuggle contraband to an accomplice without revealing or risking themselves, to name a few.

If I were a pilot, I'd probably be GLAD that I went through the same screening as everyone else--if I have a privilege that the bad guys would like to exploit, that makes me a target.

Of course, there's still the issue that "the same screening as everyone else" is set to the wrong level...

Dave CornwellNovember 10, 2010 5:08 PM

I recently had an experience at BWI. It was my first encounter with the full body scanner. I had put all my luggage and laptop through X-ray and then was told I had to go through the full body scanner. However I still had my wallet with me. They said no wallets through the scanner. I said I would not be separated from my wallet - what if someone stole my wallet while I was in the scanner and my wallet was going through the x-ray machine separately. So I refused to go through the scanner which caused all kinds of problems. In the end someone came over and watched my wallet go through the X-ray machine picked it up and handed it to me on the other side. Of course I then had to go through the full pat down experience but at least I still had my wallet. I think the answer is that everyone should refuse to go through the full body scanner and then see what kind of mess TSA gets in. The queues would be enormous. Noone would get through the security screening on time. They don't have enough time and people to perform a full pat down on everyone. It would be a real mess.

ThomasNovember 10, 2010 5:31 PM

"Belts, it has been determined, can interfere with the images procured by the new full-body scanners being deployed at checkpoints around the country. And so, from now on, passengers need to remove them."

So... stand in scanner with your hands up an no belt.

Davi OttenheimerNovember 10, 2010 5:49 PM

This is so "third world" it kills me.

We used to laugh and joke about bureaucrats who only existed to exercise authority to levels of ridiculousness and corruption. We thought it was funny because it seemed so awkward and insecure compared to real security -- smooth-running, uninterrupted and relaxed travel.

Now who is laughing. I find this to be the key to the story:

"Belts, it has been determined, can interfere with the images procured by the new full-body scanners being deployed at checkpoints around the country. And so, from now on, passengers need to remove them."

WTF? How completely and utterly stupid. Who authorized purchase of a scanner that can not handle a belt?

Next will they say the scanner can not handle oxygen so we will have to swim in (even more expensive) vats of oil?

The belt rule was added after the scanners because these scanners are flawed. They failed.

What do you do with expensive flawed scanners? Apparently you keep them and try to convince the subjects to adapt at whatever cost.

I just want to know which silly third-world bureaucrat approved these things and how big is their new yacht?

Tosk59November 10, 2010 6:02 PM

Passing thru ABQ TSA said that all paper had to be removed from pockets when passing thru the milliwave scanner, had to take out wallet and completely empty pockets. How good can this tech be if paper causes it problems??

Um ...November 10, 2010 6:32 PM

Do these halfwits realize that there exist pants with built-in fake "belts"? Are they seriously going to make me take my pants off?

I don't own any such pants, but you can bet my bare, hairy butt that I'm going to find a pair before my next flight!

patrick henryNovember 10, 2010 6:32 PM

"He does not enact policy; he enforces it."

That is no excuse.

TSA employees are "at will" employees. They are not forced to violate your rights. They are employed there and violate your rights by their on volition.

Yes, the people who enact these policies are in the wrong. But so are the TSA employees who enforce them. Each equally culpable.

patrick henryNovember 10, 2010 6:36 PM

It occurs to me that a really brave American should approach a TSA checkpoint wearing nothing but what the TSA requires he remove, and happily remove it at the TSA's insistence.

MarkHNovember 10, 2010 7:22 PM

As the searches become more intrusive (any chance they'll grow less?), remember a story John Lydon (better known as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) told about an accidental circumvention of security:

On arrival to the USA, officials decided to strip-search the band -- as it happened, they first searched John Ritchie (Sid Vicious), who had not changed his underwear for quite a long time (according to Lydon, they were 'orrible).

After that, the officials elected not to strip search the other band members.

RobertTNovember 10, 2010 8:12 PM

I fully realize that the TSA is bone-headed BUT I think the biggest problem is that they are almost never female, 25 and beautiful. You guys need to travel through Asia more often. I can tell you, from personal experience, that there is one checker in Incheon, who after a pat down, will leave you with more than just your contempt to hide....

A.C.November 10, 2010 8:30 PM

So, anybody willing to go commando in a kilt with peanut butter spread on their ass? Bonus points for "Chunky".

Seriously guys, where are the marches? Where are the protests? It seems like everybody I talk to is no longer flying... Folks will spend days driving across the country instead. Does anyone have any economic numbers? My local airport, once bustling with activity, is now nearly deserted with most gates unused. It seems like air travel (passengers/miles) is way down and dropping like a rock...

SomebodyNovember 10, 2010 9:12 PM

This continues without serious protest because we are now afraid of our own government.

Jay from BKKNovember 10, 2010 10:50 PM

1) At what point does it become more sensible to just take the train to Canada and then fly to an international destination?

2) Has their ever been a more universally loathed Federal agency than the TSA?

AC2November 10, 2010 11:49 PM

@Belts & Braces

Clearly someone at TSA made a huge investment in plastic clip suspender makers before announcing this rule....

Jonathan WilsonNovember 11, 2010 1:00 AM

I am sure that if enough people start taking the train to Canada to fly international, the US will do something about it somehow.

If so many people are switching from airplanes to other forms of transport (driving, long-distance busses, trains etc) and the airline proffit margins are down, why arent the airlines complaining about this? (do the airlines still have the kind of lobbying power and influence in Washington that they used to have?)

If I was the CEO of a company and new rules brought in by the government were causing people to switch to my competitors, I for one would want to use all the lobbying power I had to do something about it.

Although on the other hand, I guess if the airlines complain (either about the security driving passengers away or any extra costs that the airlines face due to said security) they will be painted by politicans as "greedy" for putting proffits over "security".

ytNovember 11, 2010 2:33 AM

@Dr. T "If I ever fly again, ... I now will be wearing only a skin-tight [USSR wrestling uniform] ... singlet, and no frisking or pat-downs will be needed to show that I am bomb-free."

I had a similar idea, but I plan to wear a stars-and-stripes bikini for the irony factor.

Just Say NONovember 11, 2010 3:06 AM

@todd

"I am against what the TSA is doing and how they attempt to provide security, but I don't see a way to drive attention to this issue."

And by this, the oppressors win.

As long as people feel powerless to stop the state bringing in more and more crazy rules then Democracy is a farce and we live in a totalitarian state. Even a change of ruling party has no real impact in the way the machinery of government rules our lives.

All Rosa Parks did was refuse to stand up. A simple, small, act that led to a significant (and painful) national change.

Part of the current problem is that this is not a single, polarised, issue. If you refused to take your belt off, it wouldnt lead to riots across the country, it would just lead to an arrest and some rubber glove action.

Maybe its already too late.

SlartyNovember 11, 2010 3:14 AM

"European airports have made us remove our belts for years"

Pardon? Which bit of Europe do you travel in?

Anyway, just another reason to live in Asia-Pac. We don't waste our money on this drivel. We just out-grow the hell out of the old world.

Resistance is futile.

gregNovember 11, 2010 4:02 AM

@Slarty

Well Austria and German airports do ask you to take your belt off for the metal detectors. However if you don't have a metal buckle you don't need to.

Also the attitude is very different. Basically they don't really care all that much about any of the rules. They don't check to see if the liquids you have are the right size as long as they are not 2l bottles etc.

One time i forgot my pocket knife (A long bladed one). They didn't really care and just asked if I was coming back through the airport same day to pick it up, or if they could post to my home address.

Porn Scanners and humiliating pat downs are not here yet. But i lack faith that we learnt anything the last few times around.

"lest we forget" --forget what?

RogerNovember 11, 2010 4:29 AM

I've just booked a flight from London to NZ, (paying extra to book by phone due to website crapness) and discovered when chatting with the agent that the flights via Hong Kong are more sought after due to the lack of the US screening process that the airline can get away with charging an additional £200 for the flight.

Although checking the website now shows, this is only true when booking weeks in advance. Hmm...

DavidNovember 11, 2010 4:58 AM

@Tim

how hard would it be to make a pair of flip-flops (we kiwis call them jandals - dunno - it must have been a product name... mind you, the Aussies call then thongs, which causes all kinds of problems for the USAnians!) out of solid C4? If the explosive-sniffer dude didn't pick you out, you're in free!

Oh, and how hard would it be to make a cut-out in the shape of an automatic pistol from a thin sheet of lead foil and stick it to the bottom of one of the x-ray scanner trays? Not one you use, of course... Fun for hours!!

GrumpyNovember 11, 2010 6:03 AM

Any civil servant making or implementing decisions carry the full responsibility for the effects of their actions. I thought that precedent was made quite clearly in 1946...?

I think I'll put US of A on my no-fly-to list with the other dictatorships.

uk visaNovember 11, 2010 6:17 AM

Fortunately the airlines seem to be waking up to the fact that over zealous security delivered by under IQed people is driving people away from air travel.

Whilst there's zero cost to the TSA being moronic and seeing every traveller as the enemy the airlines are paying for it in reduced revenues.

I know people who used to fly every week but now only fly when they have to - less than once a month.

IntelVetNovember 11, 2010 7:40 AM

I know the Brits (BA CEO) has complained that "security" has driven away passengers.

kaszetaNovember 11, 2010 8:13 AM

For several years I had to wear an elbow brace (non-metallic), and the TSA always treated it like it was a weapons cache. Being seen with it at a checkpoint was guaranteed to result in a patdown and a lot of questions. Heck, once they gave me extra screening when one of the agents saw me take it off as I came up to the screening area.

My solution was simple: remember to wear long-sleeve shirts. Out of sight, out of mind.

MarkNovember 11, 2010 9:29 AM

Not only do I normally wear pants where
the belt is built-in where the only way to
remove my belt is to remove my pants
entirely, I cannot wait to fly again and
see how they handle that. I must also
wear a “girdle” due to a massive
abdominal hernia where taking that off
involves me stripping down and can have
adverse medical consequences.

Clive RobinsonNovember 11, 2010 11:32 AM

@ Dr. T,

"I now will be wearing only a skin-tight wrestling singlet, and no frisking or pat-downs will be needed to show that I am bomb-free."

I hate to point it out but being skin tight will not work due to the non uniform shape of the human form...

Oh and as Bruce used to joke you could always have stuffed it up your 455 as did a suicide bomber in the Middle East...

altjiraNovember 11, 2010 12:59 PM

I can see the good in this. For years, every time I needed a new belt (I'm starting to question the savings in buying cheap belts), I've put a lot of time and thought into finding the best compromise between buckle strength and setting off detectors. No longer. Now I can go out and buy the biggest, sturdiest-looking belt buckle I can find. Hell, I can even wear my utilikilt monstrosity!

a.November 11, 2010 2:45 PM

When my naked scanner virginity was stolen (does that count as a naked scanner rape? I don't consent to it but I don't really want to say hi to mr. rubberglove either) in DFW (when returning to US the last time), they made me take out even paper notes from my pockets. How ineffective are those scanners if they can't distinguish a 10 euro note from a bomb or a weapon?

GeorgeNovember 11, 2010 3:17 PM

How many people will die because they choose to drive rather than be irradiated or groped?

(Hint: It's surely more than the number of lives TSA screening has saved-- zero.)

JonNovember 11, 2010 6:59 PM

@ Jonathan Wilson : "If I was the CEO of a company and new rules brought in by the government were causing people to switch to my competitors, I for one would want to use all the lobbying power I had to do something about it."

What makes you think they aren't? More to the point, why would you think they'd lobby for the kind of rollback you'd find acceptable?

Cynical me thinks it far more likely they'll be lobbying for reduced taxes, or a subsidy, or some other federally-subsidized way of propping up their previous income without having to actually /carry/ any passengers. Really, it'd be win-win for them. They get the same income, but reduced fuel and expendables bills, and much lower wages bills.

At the limit, the government will be paying them to not fly at all - and who can blame then because that would be sooper-safe. There's no way a terrorist can bring down a plane that isn't flying.

I think Joesph Heller wrote something about this a few years ago in relation to alfalfa, but I'm pretty sure he meant it as a parody, not an instruction manual.

Jon

ErrorNovember 11, 2010 7:04 PM

There is no chance that there is malfeasance in other professions. Making insulting generalizations to dehumanize makes your statements bear greater veracity. You are better than these people because you complain on the internet anonymously rather than make a concerted effort to force your elected officials to deal with this issue. Everyone who comments on a blog must always have a perfect knowledge of all things, citing a specialization, title, or limited experience sometimes which means that they are an "expert" (like the title conferred upon the doctor who graduates last in class)
There is no possibility that this is an eight year old, bastard child of an ad hoc administration given absolute power to field 50,000 people in three months; power which has never been limited or diminished. There is no way that forcing the administration to comply with opm and title 5 rules would lead to an end of this perfect example of "control fraud" (via Federal Security Directors and their hand-picked deputies) claiming the divine right to ignore any and all laws, rules, and procedures (even their own secret directives) on a "discretion" derived from a directive that they have most likely never read. It is impossible to imagine that making an administration beholden to normal rules would allow for FOIA requests to be forced to be responded to easier, procedures to be uniformly assigned, evidence of misconduct to be audited, and considerations such as veterans preference, education, and positive factors to reassign the duties of the workforce, rather than the natural upward trajectory of nepotism and cronyism.
Hell would freeze over if current policies were created in a lowest-common denominator manner to compensate for a demoralized workforce which punishes initiative and strict procedural adherence as a sign of questioning authority, forcing the better to leave only the chaff, the untrained, and those who believe strongly enough to stay and fight to try to stave of the cancerous nature of the arbitrary power wielded by the middle management to oppress the frontline, and the American Citizen as the ultimate casualty of this corruption.
.....Then again, these are all just false musings, as I'm one of those illiterate, knuckle-dragging, miscreant peons (as my lords like to remind us), that can't understand what is going on, and any willingness to question their nonchalance about violating the oaths they took as federal employees would indicate a lack of trustworthiness and judgment on my part.

Bruce, I told you once that they don't exactly reward competence..... I guess that statement may imply a certain vanity of an assumed expectation. The greater issue is just how beholden it all is to the whims of the local sovereigns (who have perfect control to shield impropriety at the expense of a few lowly Pharmakoi- their whistle blowers).

supachupaNovember 11, 2010 8:54 PM

The question you should all ask yourselves is where and when are you going to draw the line? How much dignity and spine do you have left?

I see a lot of apathy and complaining, but little courage or show of standing for principles.

I guarantee you that money talks. If you decide to stand up for your freedom by leaving the airport and making sure to tell the airlines why you're not taking the flight, see how many people it takes before they reverse their processes. If that doesn't work, organise a protest. Stop being a sheep unless you want to be a the wolf's meal.

Texan in the snowNovember 11, 2010 11:28 PM

There are several issues with the whole TSA process that confounds me. First many peoples religious beliefs are being stomped on, Muslin and Christian alike. The body is considered scared. In many religions looking on another's body without being married is considered disrespectful. Second is that most country's who have slipped down the slop of loosing their freedom and privacy use nudity as a way of humiliating the targets. So in the US we now are separated from our belongings then we are virtually stripped viewed by someone unknown to us. Reminds me of the Nazi's. Third where does it stop. Will they develop portable machines that they can drive down and virtually see into your home? First we loose the privacy of our bodies then we start moving to loosing the privacy of our homes. These have been fundamental to foundations of privacy to have control of my body and my home. The only way to violate it was through due process. We all have become criminals. To bad unlike our founders we can't go to a new world. We have to now stand up and make a new world where privacy is important.

SkiamakhosNovember 12, 2010 2:29 AM

I'm pretty well put off from visiting America because of the security & the general attitude that whatever the authorities choose to do to you is fine. I'm on the side of Noam Chomsky: any authority needs to be questioned regularly. Is it necessary - if so, ok, if not, scrap it.

GordonjcpNovember 12, 2010 5:58 AM

Wear outsize trousers, and no underwear. Bet they don't ask you to take your belt off more than twice.

philoNovember 12, 2010 11:55 AM

On Veteran's Day I used my VA card for I.D. My reward was getting toasted in their brand new XRAY machine. How do they choose who gets a scan, PROFILING? My idiot was on a headset taking instructions from someone watching from afar. I feel soo honored to have put my life on the line so some fatcat can stuff his pockets selling tthese machines while manipulating the public with scare tactics.
Google search reveals these machines are very dangerous to some travellers according to an army of MD's!
The Germans know a 4th Reich when they see it- thanks for the youtube!
**Strip down, or opt for the pat down-make them waste their machine and cause delays for them, with small actions.

JimFiveNovember 12, 2010 1:03 PM

@supachupa
re: The question you should all ask yourselves is where and when are you going to draw the line?

I see this sentiment a lot, but I think one thing missed is the MOST people in the US don't fly very often, if ever. When they do fly, it is basically necessary and they put up with whatever they must to get it over with.

If you're on your employer's dime, you don't have the luxury of making a political statement by missing your flight. Likewise in most of the other circumstances that require normal people to fly. Missing the flight to make a point is not a reasonable alternative, if it was, they wouldn't be flying at all.
--
JimFive

MDNovember 12, 2010 8:58 PM

Perhaps what we need are flash mobs gathering at TSA checkpoint. Recall that it's trivial to print your own bogus boarding pass, no need to purchase a ticket.

The mob would to a person refuse scanning and pat-down and in general use peaceful, lawful means to inconvenience as many passengers as possible for as long as possible. If the mob were interspersed in the group of real travelers it would likely take TSA a while to figure out that a coordinated action was in progress. I would think that just a few dozen mob participants could paralyze a busy hub such as LGA or DCA.

MattNovember 13, 2010 12:46 PM

@ Dr T.
"I now will be wearing only a skin-tight wrestling singlet"

I trust you will be sewing several belts to that singlet, Dr T.

alNovember 13, 2010 1:16 PM

I always console myself with the thought that there are people who pay good money to be fondled by a total stranger. :-)

Clive RobinsonNovember 13, 2010 2:13 PM

@ al,

"...there are people who pay good money to be fondled by a total stranger. :-)"

Do you fly for free then?

Sadly part of your air fair goes to pay for the TSA crotch grabbers.

I wonder how long it will be before TSA means Touchincg Scrotums Always.

Savvy TravelerNovember 14, 2010 3:39 PM

More lunacy at our airports. At some point we have to stand up and force this to stop. I can't think of a better place to draw the line than the naked scanners and sexual assault pat downs.

Please, PLEASE: if you oppose this idiocy call specific Congressman tomorrow. We have identified the right people on the relevant committees - if we don't take action now I fear we'll lose this battle.

List and talking points here: http://www.savvytravel.net/2010/11/...

Major Variola (ret)November 14, 2010 4:00 PM

Y'all know that two women took down two russian jets. That there have been 40 women terrorists in the last 30 years.
That JihadJane (tm) was blonde, small, and female.

As the IRA said to Thatcher,
"We only have to be lucky once"

As a cypherpunk once wrote
"The only language americans understand is dead americans"

As UBL wrote,
"go home yankees"

Isn't it the logical conclusion that folks in glass empires shouldn't fly drones?

Tech solutions to social problems fail.

BobbyNovember 15, 2010 4:30 AM

A friend of mine didn't have to take off his belt in Berlin. When they asked him to take off his belt he said "No, it takes too long to put on" and they let him keep it on.

He's... uhm... quite big.

Scan THIS, JerkyNovember 15, 2010 1:00 PM

Saw my first kiddie-porn scanning machine in Canada this weekend.

Went through the metal detector and the explosive swabs, and was directed to the kiddie-porn scanner.

"I am not getting in that damn machine" was my firm but polite reply.

"Damn machine?", asks the polite Canadian screener.

"Damn machine", says I, as politely as one can say "Damn machine". A minute of confused silence ensues. Screener offers his opinion that "it's not that bad now, they turned the resolution down because it used to be more detailed".

Score. An admission that these things *can* see more than we're being told.

"Don't care", says I. "I am not a criminal and will not be subjected to an invasive scan, regardless of what you say. I'll take the enhanced pat-down, let's get started"

I guess this guy *really* didn't want to be on junk patrol - he actually asked his supervisor if he could show me the image - oh that would of been so sweet. Of course, his sup looked at him like he just pooed his pants again and said, somewhat witheringly, NO he can't see the image. Give him his patdown.

So, although I don't like being patted down, for me it was the (slightly) lesser of two evils. And I will say this much. The staff at this Canadian airport actually had the maturity to realize that I was not "disrespektin their authoriti" and did not get all up in my face. As pleasant an encouter as one could wish for under the circumstances.

M.V.November 16, 2010 6:15 AM

Trouble with fully body scanners: (Sorry it is in german)

http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/...

According to the article the scanners currently under test at the Hamburg Airport have a false positive rate of nearly 100%. Apparently the problem is caused by multiple layers of clothing. It may be easy to detect metal weapons but for explosive underwear much more sensitivity is needed.
Officially it is declared as software problem which is being worked on.

GBNovember 16, 2010 10:33 PM

I presume that the belt restriction is due to the density of the material. So...what kind of other materials could the masses wear that also defeat this system. Just think, if everyone wore clothes that defeated the system, then the TSA would be forced to stop using it.

Christoph S.November 17, 2010 7:46 AM

I remember pat-down searches on a flight from Frankfurt to the US as early as 2005 - and this was mandatory for all US-bound passengers. Also, passengers and hand luggage were screened twice (one checkpoint with metal detectors at an extremely sensitive setting, reacting to a bit of tinfoil I had in my pocket; the second checkpoint with pat-down search and another metal detector).
At that time, I wondered why flights from Germany to the US seemed to be such a big security risk, while the security check on the return flight was quite lax in comparison... Now the Americans seem to get the same level of annoyance that we had back then :-)

Leeland HeinsNovember 17, 2010 1:12 PM

I'm just through with flying. I'm going to be driving 4250 miles on my next trip because it is less hassle, and not only that, it is less expensive for two people and we can bring as much luggage as we want (well up to what will fit in the car) without having to pay extra fees.

The airlines and tourist industries have already been hurting, with these new stupid and ineffective rules a lot more people are going to be making the same decision as me to drive or just stay home and they'll be losing lots of $$$. Maybe then they'll use their political pressure to get TSA the smackdown it so righteously deserves.

It isn't just tourism that will suffer either, all this extra hassle makes taking another look at video conferencing and other alternatives to travel worthwhile for business.

CanadianNovember 17, 2010 1:28 PM

I love the US. I used to visit several times a year, and spent a pot load of money on each trip.

I haven't been back since 2007, since you lost all control of your Department of Fatherland goons.

Looks like this latest assault by your gov't on innocent people will extend my self-imposed exile for several more years to come.

Pity. You used to be such a cool country, now you're just a bunch of scared children. Don't worry though, you keep turning inwards, and the rest of the world will progress just fine without you.

CanadianNovember 17, 2010 3:52 PM

Readying what I wrote above, I would like to apologize for, and withdraw the last paragraph that post. It was uncalled for and childish. Sorry. Been one of those weeks.

djsmokybaconNovember 17, 2010 5:03 PM

Canadian is at least partially correct; we allow our political class to take actions that indicate we're scared. However, we're not, not really.

About the only security check I can think of that makes sense at an airport is whether or not I have a couple of spare magazines for my sidearm. If not, loan me some.

BobNovember 17, 2010 5:46 PM

The American Traveler Dignity Act was introduced today by Ron Paul. It is a small step in the right direction, although I am not sure I agree with privatizing security under federal shield, if it goes the way SFO has gone.

http://paul.house.gov/index.php?...

"It establishes that airport security screeners are not immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us.

Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries."

MorrisNovember 18, 2010 12:18 PM

I have three responses to airport "security":

1) I will not go through the scanner. I have to believe the pat down is no more fun for the person doing it than it is for me. I will plan for the extra time, and I will require that they do it in plain sight of multiple witnesses in case I need to call the police.

2) I will not subject my minor children to either search. The *act* of taking a picture of a minor is illegal, even if that picture is discarded. Possession of a picture of a naked child is illegal no matter the duration. Similarly, touching a child's genitals by an adult other than a medical professional doing an exam is illegal too. More parents need to deny the federal government the ability to sexual abuse our children and to have them be the subjects of child pornography.

3) As someone with a graduate degree in Economics, I am choosing not to fly to demonstrate that the extra cost of flying compared to other forms of travel is now no longer offset by the convenience or less amount of time it takes to get to my destination. If consumers make a rational decision that considers all facets of the choices, flying becomes an inferior good that can only compete by lowering prices or improving convenience to where it becomes attractive again. My hope is that airlines will realize that they cannot be profitable until flying is more convenient than alternate methods of travel.

This is one topic on which liberals and conservatives should agree, even if the reasons are different. The government is violating our civil liberties, it has expanded both its reach and size in order to do it, taxes have increased to pay for that expansion, and profits have decreased because government rules have deterred consumers from buying from private corporations. Sounds to me like Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partyers, and Libertarians finally have a subject they can all find something to dislike together.

Richard ThomasJuly 2, 2011 8:18 PM

Interesting. I was about to look for a non-metallic belt to save having to remove mine, not so much for the hassle of removing it as for having to replace it afterwards. Then again, I opted for the pat-down rather than the scanner when I had to do it (for political reasons - I think if they are going to do this, no reason to make it easier for them) so it might be worth getting anyway.

FWIW, other than the imposition, the pat-down is not that traumatic and I heartily recommend opting for it if you want to make a point and can take a fairly minor personal contact (I've had worse getting into a nightclub)

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Co3 Systems, Inc..