Naked lie

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Back in February I wrote a very angry sweary blog post about airport scannersand about how the Australian federal government had decided that they’d be installed at all Australian international airports, and I explained, not for the first time, how that would influence my travelling decisions in the future.

PASSENGERS at airports across Australia will be forced to undergo full-body scans or be banned from flying under new laws to be introduced into Federal Parliament this week.

Well, if that’s the attitude then I bloody well will drive, fuck you very much. Well, really I mean I’ll carry on driving because this airport security theatre bullshit has been building up to this for several years, and since I really object to paying a lot of money to be treated as a potential terrorist instead of a paying customer I’ve sworn not to fly unless it’s really urgent and/or there’s an ocean in my way. If I can plan ahead I’ll go overland, even if it takes a few days.

Fuck. You. All.

I think one of the things that particularly infuriated me was the knowledge that my action alone, and that of the relative handful of other people who recognise this kind of security theatre for the useless unnecessary charade it is – well, perhaps not useless if you’re a politician with shares in the companies that make this stuff – also avoid flying if at all possible, is pretty futile if it doesn’t catch on. And sadly I think we can take it as read that as we head into the northern hemisphere’s summer hordes of people will soon be marching meekly through these electronic sheep dips at major airports all over the US and Europe, and in six months or so the same will apply here as people on their way to family holidays at the Gold Coast’s resorts stand tamely in line to have their children’s gonads lightly irradiated in the name of assuring everyone that they and their glowing, ah, I mean growing offspring will not explode en route. Even though any such assurances are questionable at best when they’ve failed to detect a fucking gun down someone’s knickers.

Baaaaa, baaaaa.

I despair, I really do. I mean you do get the occasional reaction, the odd burst of noise, from the herd when the cast and crew of the security theatre do something particularly stupid and/or egregious. You hear complaints when exactly the kind of abuse we were told would never happen does in fact happen. You hear them when kids – even babies barely able to crawl and kids in frigging wheelchairs, for Christ’s sake – get patted down by the security drones. You hear them when cancer survivors are left humiliated thanks to hidebound, unthinking and almost robotic adherence to badly written rules, or just covered in their own piss through pure ham-fistedness. You hear them when they loudly ask septuagenarian women if they’re wearing a sanitary towel. And then the next episode of Your Country’s Masterchef’s Got A Talented Voice Factor appears on the magic fishtank and the complaints fade. A relative handful carry on objecting, either writing about invasive searches afterwards, refusing to fly and encouraging others to do the same, or actually pitching up and the airport and then publicly refusing to be scanned or treated like a recent arrestee. But the majority just grumble before falling silent and accepting their new role as guilty ’til screened sufficient to be presumed innocent again, if not enthusiastically embrace their loss of liberty and presumption of innocence.

Did I mention that I despair? I did? Oh good.

And I will despair even more if Australia doesn’t go completely screaming batshit over the latest development. Because back in February we were told that in the interests of privacy, though not actual fucking liberty, the scanners to be installed in Australian airports would be the ones that display the stick figures on the screen. Not that that cuts any ice with me.

It’s also keen to allay concerns raised on travel online forums that passengers would appear nude on security screens as they had when similar scanners were introduced at US airports.

The technology will show passengers on a screen as stick figures of neither sex.

Not the point. As I’ve explained above and at some length in the past, my objection was never that someone might see my knob or my wife’s tits, it’s that neither of us are terrorists and there’s not a single goddamn thing in the whole fucking universe to suggest that we are. …I feel that it’s not unreasonable that I don’t get treated as a possible member of Alkyfuckingaida at airports, especially when the bastards know who I am well before I fly and can assess my potential risk in advance, leaving not much more than a need for me to satisfy them that I am, as I claim, Mr A Exile who’s never been in trouble with the police and was vetted before getting an Australian visa.

But with the Anglo-Saxon nudity taboo that’s relatively strong in western societies I’m sure for most people, and perhaps especially for women, it was indeed the thought of their personal sweater kittens and other bits being up on someone’s screen somewhere in the airport. Yes, we’re assured that staff wouldn’t be able to record images or identify who they were looking at, but the problem there is that as I recall the same assurances were made everywhere that has in fact happened. So the gingerbread man scanner was a sop to keep those folks happy. I can only hope that they find the rage coming back and, for a change, remaining as they realise that this too has turned out to be a false promise. Because the stick man scanners are still going to reveal more than some people would wish.

CONTROVERSIAL full-body scanners due to be introduced into Australian airports next month will identify prosthesis wearers, including breast cancer survivors and transgender passengers.

Earlier this year the federal government announced the new scanners, to be installed in eight international terminals, would be set to show only a generic stick-figure image to protect passengers’ privacy.

But documents released under freedom of information show that, in meetings with stakeholders, Office of Transport Security representatives confirmed the machines would detect passengers wearing a prosthesis.

Like I said, I hope those concerned about privacy will get angry about this, but I can’t help but note the time of year that this news comes out and that the scanners will be installed: the Australian winter, when fewer people are flying. Is it paranoid of me to wonder about this? Would there be anything in the idea that doing it several months ahead of the summer rush would give people time to forget about the scanners until they were at the airport in December, by which time it’s too late to buy your scanner proof undies or really do anything at all unless you’re prepared to write off the cost of your flights?

Stakeholders, including Muslims and civil libertarians, were consulted by the Office of Transport Security and raised numerous concerns.


The policy to use generic stick-figure images was introduced to placate these privacy concerns.

Internal documents also revealed a proposed privacy quality assurance program to check privacy issues was scrapped late last year.

Scrapped. Got that? Even something to address the bit most people are getting worked up about has been quietly ditched. I wrote more than two years ago that this would continue and even escalate unless everybody began voting against airport security theatre with their wallets, so if you don’t like it cancel your summer holiday plans NOW and go local instead.

This is not about making you safe, it’s about making a quid for companies that can jump on the bandwagon with products that gullible politicians can be persuaded to spend your taxes on to create an illusion of safety. As has been pointed out about a squillion times, even if the scanners were completely effective they’re going to look pretty stupid reduced to a smouldering heap of twisted wreckage the first time someone sets off a bomb while standing in the queue to be scanned. The only way to prevent that will be the next escalation and loss of privacy and dignity.

And part of me suspects we might have got to this point already if it wasn’t for the fact that there’s money to be made selling security technology in the meantime, though I suppose the taser bracelet might still be an option for the security theatre mob even when we are all expected to fly in the nip.

11 comments for “Naked lie

  1. June 11, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I flatly refuse to fly now. There is zero reason beyond humiliating passengers to do what they’re doing. Sad that it is downunder in what I thought was a bit more enlightened but no – it does show the globalists are in control and it’s one size fits all around the world. Wonder how our globalist deniers here react to it.

  2. June 11, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Likewise I decline to fly and haven’t been on a plane since 2008 and nor will I while they think I’m actually Bin Laden. You are dead right, paying customer not an inconvenience.

    If you must fly, try a small local airport. They have neither the cash for all the nonsense nor the inclination.

    • Mudplugger
      June 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      Can beat that – I stopped in 2006 when they introduced the idiotic liquids ban and would require me to remove items of clothing before using their dreadful service.

      Prior to that we usually flew 8 – 10 times a year, mixture of short and long-haul – that’s a lot of lost trade.

      If we all had the balls to stop flying, they’d either have bankrupt ‘flagship’ airlines and empty tarmac or they’d get the message.

      • June 12, 2012 at 5:49 am

        Now, there’s an idea!

  3. Rossa
    June 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Biggest shareholder in the merger of BA and Iberia is Bankia!

    If you want to see empty tarmac, have a look around the 40+ regional airports they’ve built in Spain…..totally empty tarmac, but fully manned. They even built all year round airports near the ski resorts!

    Don’t think there’ll be many people flying soon enough.

  4. David
    June 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Don’t fly any more – haven’t flown since the scanners were introduced. I use the ferry now – lovely, relaxing way to travel and they get fcuk all green/airport tax. If I ever go long haul again I’ll go from Schipol airport. Starve the beast.

  5. Maaarrghk!
    June 12, 2012 at 5:57 am

    The Grumpy Old Sod had an interesting article about a year back on Isreali airport security.

    I don’t think that they bother with any of this crap. And if they don’t why should the rest of us?

    • TediousTantrums
      June 12, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      And there is the real lie to all of this.

      The Isrealis have a system which works because it is based on information and not subject to political correct nonsense. Profiling is the answer.

      It works full stop.

      • Maaarrghk!
        June 12, 2012 at 3:29 pm

        Profiling and portable blast proof partitions TT. 🙂

        They guarantee car park entrance to departure lounge to take no more than 21 minutes.

        • June 14, 2012 at 4:15 am

          I thought it was a little longer than that but I’m not quibbling. For me t main interest is where the Toronto Star article said that the Israelis cracked the shits when they were told to expect that time to go up to ≈45 mins. They simply refused to accept it and demanded security and short time to board their flights. And they got it too. Say what you like about the Israelis but they’re still largely being treated like paying customers at their international airports. We are not.

          Baaaaa. Baaaaa.

    • June 14, 2012 at 4:10 am

      Yes, I’ve referenced the Toronto Star article that comes from several times, and in fact one of the links in this post goes back to my original blog about Israel’s approach nearly 2 and a half years ago. Since then the Israelis have been doing more of the same (if you worry them they’re apparently now asking to look at your email and Facebroke page etc, and will make sign in in front of them) and have had no incidents, or at least nothing newsworthy. And in the rest of the west we’re stubbornly refusing to follow that example and prefer hideously expensive machines that have been known to return false positives for sweaty armpits while missing guns and bomb components, and in any case have a negative effect by creating more choke points which end up filled with people that are highly vulnerable if any bomber decides to attack the security queues themselves. Meanwhile the Israelis go from car park to boarding gate in half an hour without worrying about being blown up… 🙄

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