The Inteternetz (sic) have been abuzz with tales of government-groped children, calls for balls-to-the-imaging-walls kilt wearing, and other air-travel related hysteria.

I’m not usually a crazy conspiracy nut. I don’t have opinions on space alien probes, and back-lot moon-landing stagings. That said, the TSA has lost their damn minds.

For the record, I work in a “secure detention facility.” I walk through a metal detector to get to my job each day. Granted, when it beeps they wave me on my merry way because it’s the laptop and I’m not an inmate. (Meaning, they have common sense.) To get into the jail (where some of my coworkers work), the screening’s a little tougher, but no one “gropes” their “junk” (or checks their shoes for shivs, etc.).

To get locked up where I work, they put you in a little box and hold you there until they get around to “processing” you. Then they take some info, maybe a picture, and you’re off to the showers. There’s some clean up, some squatting and coughing, and some delousing. When you enter the room from somewhere else in the facility, they make you remove your shoes and socks and then they shake out your clothes and maybe pat you down with the backs of their hands. This might be a little more invasive if you’re known to store contraband on you, if you’re not twelve, if you’ve been known to assault staff or start riots.

If you get on an airplane, you will probably have to remove your shoes and maybe your socks. Someone with less training than the correctional/detention officers I work with will look at naked pictures of you, and/or will cup your boobs, check under your skirt or feel around your “junk.” If there are too many people who prefer naked pictures to groping, they might put you in a little plastic cage for the other traveling chimps to gawk at while waiting to see if the radiation they just got dosed with gives them the ability to shoot webs out of their unmolested butts.

I’ll let you work out the similarities and differences. Just keep in mind that in the first scenario you’ve been arrested and have scored high enough on the initial screening survey that they feel you’re too much of a danger to yourself or the public to let you run around by yourself until your first court appearance. In the second, you’re a (at the moment anyway) law-abiding citizen in a “free country.”

Then there’s these “naked pictures” the TSA seems to feel isn’t really a privacy issue (except that if they’d posted examples using children instead of adults they could be arrested for distributing kiddie porn). Their description doesn’t make me any more eager to “fly the friendly skies” either.

Is it just me or is this information full of holes?

Strict privacy safeguards are built into the foundation of TSA’s use of advanced imaging technology to protect passenger privacy and ensure anonymity.

To that end, the officer who assists the passenger never sees the image the technology produces. The officer who views the image is remotely located in a secure resolution room and never sees the passenger.

The two officers communicate via wireless headset. Once the remotely located officer determines threat items are not present, that officer communicates wirelessly to the officer assisting the passenger. The passenger may then continue through the security process.

Advanced imaging technology cannot store, print, transmit or save the image, and the image is automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer. Officers evaluating images are not permitted to take cameras, cell phones or photo-enabled devices into the resolution room.

If it can’t “transmit” the image, how does the image get to a “remotely located officer”? If it can’t “store” an image, why does anything need to be “automatically deleted”?
If I open a Word document and type “poop face liars,” I have created an image of the words “poop face liars.” If I don’t close said document fast enough, Word will auto-save my little “image” to a temp file. (Which, is technically “stored.”) If I close it before Word gets around to doing that, I have nothing to delete, automatically or otherwise. If I sent my “poop face liars” “image” to my friend in the next room (where he’s hiding from the TSA maybe), I have “transmitted” the “image.” Now, I could “transmit” through a variety of wired, wireless, or even paper-based options, but the information is still “transmitted” if it is to get from one place to another.

Unless, of course, the TSA is operating a wormhole. In which case, it’s important to protect the universe from dangerous accountants and grandparents.

 

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