Boing Boing 

ACLU sues TSA to make it explain junk science "behavioral detection" program


The TSA refuses to explain how it spent $1B on a discredited "behavioral detection" program that led airport authoritarians to believe that when they racially profiled fliers, it was because they'd acquired the superpower of spotting guilty people through their "microexpressions."

Read the rest

Windows 10 announcement: certified hardware can lock out competing OSes


Microsoft has announced a relaxation of its "Secure Boot" guidelines for OEMs, allowing companies to sell computers pre-loaded with Windows 10 that will refuse to boot any non-Microsoft OS.

Read the rest

Suspicious people, American Airlines edition


Covertly snapped last night at the AA baggage office in Memphis, after they lost my luggage:

Read the rest

Bruce Schneier's Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

No one explains security, privacy, crypto and safety better.Read the rest

DHS's weird, creepy social media search-terms


Michael from Muckrock sez, "Through FOIA requests, MuckRock users have been helping keep watch on the watchers, and recently Todd Feathers's FOIA request to the DHS resulted 91 pages worth of the agency's social media searches, from the occult (seeking the "devil" in August) and creepy ("happy camp") to downright terrifying ("black market ebola")."

Read the rest

Kenya's Parliament erupts into chaos as government rams through brutal "anti-terrorism" law

MPs shredded their papers and threw them, and got into fistfights with one another over the new law, which allows the government to imprison suspects for 360 days without charge, and to fine press outlets millions for publishing articles "likely to cause fear or alarm" (this term is not defined in the statute).

Read the rest

Buy your own TSA-surplus pornoscanner for $8K


Remember when the TSA spent $113K on Rapiscan pornoscanners that turned out not to work? Now they're selling them off for $8,000.

Read the rest

Three ways fearful parents are ruining Hallowe'en

It's the safest night of the year for your kids: no kid has ever been poisoned by a stranger, and the 31st usually has fewer assaults on children than other days of the year (but more kids do get hit by cars!).

Lenore Prepares for Halloween — Heh, Heh, Heh

Chinese security forces administer rectal probes to 10,000 pigeons

All 10,000 were due to be released at the National Day celebration, and each had its anus checked for "dangerous materials" -- security theater with Chinese characteristics.

Read the rest

TSA demands to search man who's already flown

Minnesota's Kahler Nygard drew a Spirit Air boarding car with the dreaded "SSSS" extra-search marker, and halfway to Denver, Spirit and/or the TSA decided he hadn't been searched properly (he says he was), so they panicked and dragged him off the plane in Denver for another search because he might have been a time-traveller who could harm a plane after getting off of it.

Read the rest

In the Interests of Safety: using evidence to beat back security theater

"Health and Safety" is the all-purpose excuse for any stupid, bureaucratic, humiliating rubbish that officialdom wants to shove down our throats. In the Interests of Safety, from Tracey Brown and Michael Hanlon, is the antidote: an expert dismantling of bad risk-analysis and a call-to-arms to do something about it, fighting superstition and silliness with evidence.Read the rest

Security researchers buy pornoscanner, demonstrate how to sneak in guns & bombs


(Rapiscan images showing a subject carrying no weapon (left) versus a .380 ACP pistol sewn to the side of his pants leg, (right) which is practically invisible in the scan)

Researchers from UCSD, the U Michigan, and Johns Hopkins will present their work on the Rapiscan Secure 1000 at Usenix Security tomorrow; the Secure 1000 isn't used in airports anymore, but it's still in courts, jails, and government security checkpoints (researchers can't yet get their hands on the millimeter machines used at airports).

Read the rest

Leaked manual shows how US agencies put millions on "suspected terrorist" list


The 166 page "March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance" was jointly authored by 19 agencies, and has been released in full on The Intercept.

Read the rest

TSA employee to security theater skeptics: "You don't have shit for rights"


A person who "works for the TSA" accidentally posted a public comment to Facebook excoriating Rebecca Hains for expressing skepticism about the TSA's efficacy.

Read the rest

Yet another TSA screener doesn't know that DC is part of America


An Orlando TSA screener told a DC-based reporter that he'd need a passport to fly, because DC isn't a state, so a DC driver's license wasn't valid ID.

Read the rest

Have your say on TSA tax-hike

If you'd rather that the cost of US airline tickets not rise an average of 5% to pay for additional invasive and largely pointless TSA screening, you can tell them so. (Thanks, Dwen!)

TSA aviation tax set to double


The TSA is taking the brakes off the tax it levies on fliers, doubling (and more) the charge built into your plane ticket.

Read the rest

TSA tells UK airport security: confiscate broken and out-of-battery gadgets


The TSA has demanded that overseas airports, like London's Heathrow, should require travellers to turn on their electronics before flying to the USA, and ban any broken or out-of-power devices.

Read the rest

Texas school bans sunscreen because a child might drink it


A parent in San Antonio, TX is upset that her ten year old got sunburned on a school trip because the school district forbade bringing sunscreen to school, on the grounds that a child might drink the sunscreen and be poisoned by it. When called on this insanity, the Northeast Independent School District doubled down, calling sunscreen both a medication and a poison (it's neither).

Read the rest

Pornoscanners head to prisons

Normally technology migrates from prisons to schools to airports -- think CCTVs and Pre-Check -- but for the late and unlamented radioactive pornoscanners that the TSA had to give up on, the technology path went the other way -- if you're lucky enough to be incarcerated in the USA (which incarcerates more people than any other nation on Earth), you may be treated to one or more TSA-surplus pornoscans.

Movie plot threat semifinalists announced

Bruce Schneier has announced the semifinalists in his seventh annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest, wherein contestants dream up implausible reasons to justify extreme surveillance and other lawless policing techniques like torture and indefinite detention. My favorite: Homeopathic Factoring, "The NSA, through the White House's Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives formed a partnership with Zicam Digital to explore and exploit homeopathic techniques for advanced cryptanalysis."

Read the rest

Former NSA boss defends breaking computer security (in the name of national security)


For me, the most under-reported, under-appreciated element of the Snowden leaks is the BULLRUN/EDGEHILL program, through which the NSA and GCHQ spend $250,000,000/year sabotaging information security. In a great Wired story, Andy Greenberg analyzes former NSA chief Keith Alexander's defense of the stockpiling of vulnerabilities to attack "bad guys." There is no delusion more deadly than the idea that spies will make us more secure by weakening our computers' security to make it easier to spy on us.

Read the rest

Bizarre, paranoid warning about imaginary predators choosing victims through bumper-sticker-ology


Lenore "Free Range Kids" Skenazy points out a new and disturbing artifact from the weird parallel world of bubble-wrapped-kids: a post warning you that the treacly "My family" minivan stickers are an invitation to canny predators who are after YOUR KIDS. No one's saying that this has ever happened, just that they can imagine it, and if they can imagine it, bad guys can imagine it, and if you can imagine a bad guy doing something bad, then you should drop everything to prevent that imaginary thing from coming true.

When in trouble/Or in doubt/Run in circles/Scream and shout.

That Sticker on My Car Is NOT Endangering Me!

TSA agents demand bag-search to look for "Bitcoins"

Davi Barker was flying from Manchester, NH when, he says, he was stopped by two men who identified themselves as "managers" for the TSA, who claimed they had seen Bitcoins in his baggage and wanted to be sure he wasn't transporting more than $10,000 worth. When he asked them what they thought a Bitcoin looked like, they allegedly said that it looked like a coin or a medallion. (via Hacker News)

TSA not sure if DC drivers licenses are valid ID

DC resident Ashley Brandt was surprised to meet a TSA agent at Phoenix airport who didn't think that DC drivers' licenses were valid ID, because DC isn't a state.

Hungry man defeats TSA's war on peanut butter by spreading it on crackers

An airline passenger with a medical condition requiring small amounts of food at regular intervals was stymied when the LHA TSA declared his peanut butter to be a "liquid." But he cleverly spread the peanut butter onto some saltines, whereupon it was no longer a liquid and was allowed on the flight. USA USA USA. (Thanks, Alice!)

Make your own DHS threat-level chart


Personalthreatlevel lets you create your own custom DHS-style threat-level that will serve you well as a means of frightening the people in your life with nebulous, ill-defined scariness. Here's Bruce Sterling's Tumblr version.

The Current Threat Level is...

What it's like to come home to America if your name is "Ahmed"


Ahmed Shihab-Eldin is a respected journalist who holds US citizenship. Every time he returns to his home in New York, he is detained for many hours by the DHS, subjected to humiliating questioning and detention without evidence or charge, because he fits a "profile" that seems to consist entirely of "brown dude with Arabic name who visits the middle east." He recently returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos and found himself detained for hours, despite having been assured that his name had been removed from the DHS's watch-list.

His story of harrowing treatment at JFK airport stands in sharp contrast to his experiences at checkpoints in the middle east, where security risks are much more immediate and more grave. As he points out, America has spent billions creating an aviation security system and system of border checks that have had no material impact on security, but have nonetheless enmiserated, alienated, and harassed millions of people who committed no crime and posed no threat,

Read the rest

TSA whistleblower describes life in the pornoscanner room


In Jason Edward Harrington's Dear America, I Saw You Naked, he reveals that he was the anonymous TSA agent who wrote the Taking Sense Away tell-all/whistleblower blog. Harrington's piece is a shocking and eye-opening look into the world of TSA agents, especially the section dealing with the "IO room" where the nude photos of travellers who used the Rapiscan machines were displayed:

Read the rest

David Cameron: TV crime dramas prove we need mass warrantless electronic surveillance

UK Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron says that ISPs and phone companies should be required to store records of every click you make, every conversation you have, and every place you physically move through. He says that communications companies should be required to make it impossible to keep your communications from being eavesdropped in, with mandatory back-doors.

He says we need this law because "TV crime dramas illustrated the value of monitoring mobile data."

Remember the Snooper's Charter, the 2012 UK Conservative plan to require ISPs and phone companies to retain the records of all your calls and movements, and make them available to police and government without a warrant? Home Secretary Theresa May proposed an unlimited budget to pay ISPs to help spy on you, and called people who opposed this "conspiracy theorists" and said the only people who need freedom from total, continuous surveillance were "criminals, terrorists and paedophiles."

The Snooper's Charter was killed by a rebellion from Libdem MPs, who rejected the plan. Now it's back, just as the public are starting to have a debate about electronic spying thanks to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed the extent to which our online habits are already illegally surveilled by government spies. Let's hope that the Snowden revelations -- and the US government's admission that mass spying never caught a terrorist or foiled a terrorism attempt -- strangles this Cameron brainchild in its cradle.

Read the rest