USA Today | Today's smartphones and PDAs could have a new use in the nation's airports: helping passengers avoid long lines at security checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration is looking at installing devices in airports that home in and detect personal electronic equipment. The aim is to track how long people are stuck in security lines. Information about wait times could then be posted on websites and in airports across the country.
"This technology will produce valuable data that can be used in a variety of ways," TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches said, noting it could help prevent checkpoint snarls.
But civil-liberties experts worry that such a system enables the government to track people's whereabouts. "It's serious business when the government begins to get near people's personal-communication devices," said American Civil Liberties Union privacy expert Jay Stanley.
USA Today | Flight attendants press for hand-to-hand combat training as anti-terror measure The Association of Flight Attendants is pushing Congress to fund combat training as part of a four-point plan that the union says would improve security inside aircraft cabins. The Los Angeles Times reports the union "hopes that lawmakers will include money to put some of their ideas into action under an upcoming funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration."
According to the Times, the attendants' four-point plan includes: "Mandatory hand-to-hand combat training for all crew members"; portable communication devices that would allow attendants to speak with pilots during emergencies; a standard maximum size for carry-on luggage "so that flight attendants can look for suspicious passengers instead of struggling with oversized bags"; and the ability to shut down in-flight Wi-Fi "during high-threat periods to prevent terrorists from communicating with collaborators on the ground."
Photo courtesy of iStock
Washington (CNN) | President Obama has tapped a former Army general to lead the Transportation Security Administration, sources have told CNN.
Obama plans to nominate Robert A. Harding, a retired major general with 33 years in the Army, to become the TSA administrator, sources said. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will announce the nomination Monday with Harding by her side, according to one administration official.
"The TSA administrator is the most important unfilled post in the Obama administration," one administration official said. "Mr. Harding has the experience and perspective to make a real difference in carrying out the mission of the agency."
I don’t know about you, but I curse Richard Reid, the goofy-looking “shoe bomber,” every time I have to go through airport security—especially this time of year, when my slip-on, slip-off shoes are deep in storage. Amid talk of high-tech body scanners and some eight years after Reid's failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound American Airlines flight by igniting explosives hidden in his footwear, shoe security still proves elusive.
Which brings me to an email I got today from the Transportation Security Administration (if you’re a frequent traveler and don’t subscribe to the agency’s email news list, you should). Its subject line: What Ever Happened To The Shoe Scanner Idea? What ever happened indeed.
London, England (CNN) | In the name of improved security a hacker showed how a biometric passport issued in the name of long-dead rock 'n' roll king Elvis Presley could be cleared through an automated passport scanning system being tested at an international airport.
Using a doctored passport at a self-serve passport machine, the hacker was cleared for travel after just a few seconds and a picture of the King himself appeared on the monitor's display.
Adam Laurie and Jeroen Van Beek, who call themselves "ethical hackers," say the exercise exposed how easy it is to fool a passport scanner with a fraudulent biometric chip.
CNN (Washington) | To the list of instructions you hear at airport checkpoints, add this: "Put your palms forward, please."
The Transportation Security Administration soon will begin randomly swabbing passengers' hands at checkpoints and airport gates to test them for traces of explosives.
Previously, screeners swabbed some carry-on luggage and other objects as they searched for the needle in the security haystack—components of terrorist bombs in an endless stream of luggage.
Bloomberg News | Air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings and governments must explain any decision to expose the public to higher levels of cancer-causing radiation, an inter-agency report said.
Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning, even though the radiation dose from body scanners is “extremely small,” said the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety report, which is restricted to the agencies concerned and not meant for public circulation. The group includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization.
OK, OK, we're a bit giddy over 3floz.com the genius new high-end beauty site (it launched today)—and for good reason. Founded by friends, co-workers, and longtime travel companions, Kate and Alexi (below), it only sells products that are TSA acceptable (small enough to carry-on in those transparent little plastic baggies we frequent travelers hold so dear).
Daily Mail | Air passengers who refuse to submit to controversial full body scans will be barred from boarding their flights.
The technology—which has been strongly condemned by civil liberties campaigners—began operating at Heathrow and Manchester airports yesterday. Birmingham will follow suit later this month before the anti-terror devices are rolled out nationally....
Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said: 'In the immediate future, only a small proportion of airline passengers will be selected for scanning.
'If a passenger is selected for scanning and declines, they will not be permitted to fly.'
After a flurry of security breaches and a healthy public outcry over the holidays, travelers with iPhones can give the Transportation Security Administration a piece of their minds. The tech company On the Spot Systems, Inc. announced a new iPhone application that allows flyers to rate airport security screening via a TSA survey.
Originally created to capture reviews for restaurants, hotels, and services, Survey on the Spot’s first phone application rolled out in November 2009. Now is shaping up to be the perfect time for the feedback interface to include airport security in its fold.