It seems the political leaders are drinking some sort of drink to believe everything, with the Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening coming out and saying that more scanners should be deployed, a lack of opt-out (scanning to remain compulsory for those selected), and for scans that are conducted to be reviewed by machine, rather than by humans.

It seems the UK wishes to go it’s own way from the European Union again, in relation to deploying more scanners (which the EU said no until further tests are carried out to determine the safety of the scanners) – whilst Ms Greening states that she

“will consider it carefully before making decisions about which technologies should be deployed at UK airports in future”

So expect little change on that front then.

In relation to the clause to opt out and have a manual scan, Ms Greening has played the “safety” card stating:

“[she] aware that the proposals recently agreed by the European Parliament include the right for passengers to request an opt out from scanning”

but

“Given the security arguments against permitting such an opt-out, and the threat level that exists in the UK, the Government intends to use its powers under the Aviation Security Act to maintain the current position. Those passengers selected for scanning will therefore not be able to fly if they are not willing to be scanned”

Ms Greening states  that she did not believe a pat-down search is equivalent in security terms to a security scan, and a full private searches would  “likely to represent a greater intrusion of privacy than a security scan”, as well as proving “operationally disruptive to airports and other passengers”.

So there’s another finger at the EU notice then.

Ms Greening states a total of 12 passenger refusals have been logged from 1 million scans. Note that there have been no notifications of objections to scans or scans taken under duress as this would had prevented travel. So yes, you can bet there’s massaging in those numbers too.

In relation to the matter of reviewing the images, Ms Greening states that software that will analyse images is in development which means no human eye would see the image again. Note that nothing was mentioned about image retention, comparisons or sources of images.  And it being a government  IT project, it’ll be delayed and over budget.

For those who really want to read the political spiel from Whitehall, head to http://www.dft.gov.uk/news/statements/greening-20111121 for your dry as dishwater comment from the horses mouth, but it seems our political masters are doing this “for our safety”.

Exactly who’s safety… I’m not sure.

Once again, this just stinks of “security theatre” with dressing on the top, and little down the bottom.

Posted by Kevincm | Comments are off for this article

Here’s a big news breaking from the European Union, Forbes and The Economist.

And it’s to do with Nude-o-scopes – or Backscatter/Millimetre Wave Scanners. And to be blunt – the European Union is not happy about them in the least.

The big line from the release it is this:

In order not to risk jeopardising citizens’ health and safety, only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are added to the list of authorised methods for passenger screening at EU airports. All other technologies, such as that used for mobiles phones and others, can be used provided that they comply with EU security standards.

In addition, new rights are imposed. These are:

  • Security scanners shall not store, retain, copy, print or retrieve images;
  • Any unauthorised access and use of the image is prohibited and shall be prevented;
  • The human reviewer analysing the image shall be in a separate location and the image shall not be linked to the screened person and others.
  • Passengers must be informed about conditions under which the security scanner control takes place.
  • Passengers are given the right to opt out from a control with scanners and be subject to an alternative method of screening.

Currently, the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy have deployed scanners, and for some countries, if you are referred to a scanner, if you choose NOT to be scanned, you would not be allowed to pass.  The rules above change this aspect

Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner responsible for transport, said:

“Security scanners are not a panacea but they do offer a real possibility to reinforce passenger security. Security scanners are a valuable alternative to existing screening methods and are very efficient in detecting both metallic and non-metallic objects. It is still for each Member State or airport to decide whether or not to deploy security scanners, but these new rules ensure that where this new technology is used it will be covered by EU wide standards on detection capability as well as strict safeguards to protect health and fundamental rights. Experience to date shows that passengers and staff generally see security scanners as a convenient method of screening.”

This is going to irk a lot of goverments who see these scanners as the universal soultion of security screening. In addition protocols are going to have to be changed and examined.

I’d also expect denials of anything wrong by the TSA and the TSA apologist brigade as well as governments.

Posted by Kevincm | 5 Comments

Well it didn’t take long to get the Nude-o-Scopes out into the open in the United Kingdom.

The Millimetre Wave Scanners which will solve all terrorist issues (actually they won’t) are now in operation at London Heathrow and Manchester Airport T2.  If one is selected by security staff, one must go through the scanner – or else one will not be allowed aboard.

It’s important to note that if selected, there is NO option of pat-down – you must go through the scanner or you won’t fly. 

Birmingham International is to follow it is own sweet time, with more machines to go live later this month at LHR and MAN (Including MAN T1 and T3).

Adults and Children can be selected for scanning with all the privacy issues that brings.

Of course to prevent abuse a code of practice has been published (and of course, we all know a code of practice stops everyone in their tracks).  This includes:

  • Passengers should be informed as early as possible that they may face a the Nude-o-Scope (before a ticket is purchased  in the best scenario)
  • The security officer looking at images is put  out of sight of passengers.
  • People chosen for scanning can ask for the images to be viewed by someone of the same sex.
  • Images will be deleted once scanning is completed.
  • Security officers must obtain appropriate security clearances before receiving training
  • Training for Nude-o-Scopes must be approved by the Department of Transport.

The code states: ”

Passengers must not be selected on the basis of personal characteristics (i.e. on a basis that may constitute discrimination such as gender, age, race or ethnic origin).”

In other words, completely random at a security officers whim of course.

Scanners must be operated in accordance with detailed protocols which are not published because, they contain security sensitive information which includes selection criteria on those chosen for scanning.

However, the code of practice has been published for all to see at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/security/aviation/airport/bodyscanners/codeofpractice/ with the announcement by Lord Adonis (someone has possible bed trouble with a name like that) at http://www.dft.gov.uk/press/speechesstatements/statements/adonis20100201


My opinion? I have tickets for sale for “Security Theatre”. Playing now at Heathrow, Manchester and soon to be Birmingham…

In addition, the flippant term of Nude-o-Scope is to be applied in any post forward regarding Millimetre Wave Scanners in an effort to educate the public about this wonderful invasion of privacy that quite frankly doesn’t work.

Hattip: The Register

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Well it sees the USA isn’t the only country that can do kneejerk reactions.  The UK Has commenced a review of airport security, with the upshot of it being Millimetre Wave Scanners (MMW) being implemented in UK airports for deployment by end of January.

How do they work?

According to Wiki…

Clothing and other organic materials are translucent in some extremely high frequency (millimeter wave) radio frequency bands.[2] This frequency range is just below the (related) sub-millimeter “Terahertz radiation” (or “T-ray”) range.

The millimeter wave is transmitted from two antennas simultaneously as they rotate around the body. The wave energy reflected back from the body or other objects on the body is used to construct a three-dimensional image, which is displayed on a remote monitor for analysis.

Obviously, there are privacy concerns, including the threat of abuse of images (although the promise of instant deletion of images quite frankly doesn’t wash with me), but it still boils down to one person behind a screen examining the images.

Herein is the problem. If a person is having an off day, and misses something – oops.

The big question is this however – Is this all just security theatre? By that I mean is it there to reassure the public that something is being done, or is it just a “Show of force” with nothing more behind it. It should be pointed out that no disclosed threat has been identified by security means.

Even the Home Secretary has confirmed this in his speech:

“It is clear that no one measure will be enough to defeat inventive and determined terrorists and there is no single technology which we can guarantee will be 100% effective against such attacks,”

- Alan Johnson, Home Secretary

In addition, Alan Johnson said there was only a 50 to 60% chance that a body scanner would have detected bomb materials allegedly carried on NW253.

Only combined with the possibiltiy of passenger profiling (which itself could open a whole kettle of fish), could this stand a chance in hell of working.

I think I know the answer to the security theatre question, and I’m sure you can guess what I think it is too…

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Welcome to GhettoIFE.com!

I’m your host – Kevin – and I’ll be here to guide you through the maze of modern travel, and hopefully add some insightful comment and humour.

With GhettoIFE getting on for 2 years old, I’ve had a bit of a design refresh, and tidied up, so for older viewers who make it here – yes, it’s the same content will all the usual sarcasm as always.

As well as random posts on the days events, my trip reports and a few other bits, there will be a few “regular” slots including:

  • The News – Commercial aviation news in a bite size ripped to bits segments.
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GhettoIFE.com is updated once or twice a day depending on what’s going on in the world when I’m at my base, and a lot less frequently when I’m away travelling.

All the posts have a slightly twisted and humours bent, and of course comments are open. Please feel free to drop your thoughts in.

I don’t Twitter, nor do Facebook – so it’s traditional email through the comment boxes or direct at blog@ghettoife.com

Thank you for choosing Kevin’s Ghetto IFE. We know you have a choice in blogs.

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