In news that is both disturbing and not at all surprising, the Department of Homeland Security is currently asking private contractors to bid on a system that would create a National License Plate Recognition database that could allow various forms of law enforcement to track the movements of drivers, whether they are suspected of a crime or just going to buy a Big Gulp at 7-Eleven. [More]
No one likes being made fun of or humiliated (okay, some people do, but that’s part of a much larger discussion), but you can’t throw your authority as a big, scary federal agency around to stop people from mocking you, even if they’re making some money doing so. [More]
Perhaps the Dept. of Homeland Security is actually listening to all the people who aren’t exactly thrilled with the possibility of being touched by TSA airport screeners. The department is hoping someone out there can come up with a hand-held device that would take the place of the controversial pat-downs. [More]
In the next few months, the TSA will implement new security procedures for fliers under 12, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate. They can still get patted down, although it will be by a different method, and they no longer have to remove their shoes. Even if they have velcro straps and are super easy to take on and off anyway. [More]
Almost anyone who has been stuck in the airport security screening line has at least mumbled to themselves about the process, but a new report from CNN says that such behavior could lead to travelers being singled out for further screening. [More]
The TSA’s rollout of full-body backscatter scanners at airports hasn’t pleased too many people (other than the manufacturers of said scanners). Now a handful of newly uncovered documents show that the Dept. of Homeland Security has been considering bringing that invasive technology out of the airport and out to the public realm. [More]
In a move that makes virtually no sense whatsoever, the Department of Homeland Security has announced a partnership with Walmart “to help the American public play an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation.” [More]
Like it or not, advanced imaging technology (AIT)–capable of producing highly detailed pics of your naked body–is expanding rapidly throughout U.S. airports. Last month, there were at least 142 AIT units deployed in eleven airports, but by the end of the year that will jump to more than 450 nationwide, spread across at least forty airports (see full list below). The TSA has tried to downplay privacy issues by saying that the units won’t save images, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t. In fact, the U.S. Marshals Service in Florida says they’ve got over 35,000 AIT scans of people saved. They also say that an AIT unit tested in the Washington, D.C. federal courthouse was sent back to the manufacturer with images still stored on it. [More]
The Transportation Security Administration has discovered a major new threat, and is targeting it with all methods at its disposal. No, not terrorists. The agency is going after two bloggers, Steve Frischling and Chris Elliott, for exposing its whopper of a policy document, issued Christmas Day in the wake of that day’s failed terrorist attack.
The Orwellian Department of Homeland Security claims that it can indefinitely confiscate laptops and iPods from law abiding citizens without any provocation or justification. The Department “clarified” their policies after several business travelers started asking the press why Homeland Security was fiddling with their laptops and PDAs for months on end.
Make of this what you will, as the story comes from the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s church-owned Washington Times and may be more fiction than fact, but “a senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser.” Yes, the EMD Safety Bracelet from Lamperd Less Lethal is designed to make flying a fun experience once again. Just check out everything it can do:
- Take the place of an airline boarding pass.
- Contain personal information about the traveler.
- Be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage.
- Shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes.
A PR hack sent us a stupidly long press release a few hours ago about Clear, the company that—for an annual $100 fee—will pre-authorize you with TSA to speed up your passage through security. Clear started operating in select airports over a year ago, and this month will add Reagan National and Dulles International airports to its list. So, is the service worth it? We guess that depends on how much you’re willing to spend to be able to jump ahead of all the poor people waiting in line like the common criminals they surely are. We wanted a slightly more objective way to evaluate it, though, so we started looking around online for first-hand experiences of what exactly happens when you flash your Clear card.
The Transportation Security Administration’s traveler redress website—which was launched to give travelers a way to get their names removed from the government’s toddler-centric no fly list—operated for months without proper security in place, leaving citizens who submitted detailed personal information to it wide open to identity theft. Gee, we’re this close to thinking that the TSA is run by a bunch of grotesquely incompetent, slug-like bureaucrats.
Despite all the much-publicized delays with passport applications this year, the government has announced that they’ll still be unprepared for the onslaught of applications come 2008, so if you know you’ll need a new/renewed passport you should apply now during the slow season. In January, the land and sea portion of the new passport law goes into effect, requiring everyone who travels to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean to show proof of citizenship.