'Don't touch my junk' shows tech limits

'Don't touch my junk' shows tech limits

Summary: We have reached a limit in the acceptable use of technology to make us secure.


We have reached a limit in the acceptable use of technology to make us secure.

As Unisys reports that Kiwis and Australians are happy to use facial, iris and fingerprint recognition, in America a major storm has developed, a storm that brings a clear message to our own governments.

"Don't touch my junk!" has become the rallying cry of offended passengers, who are outraged at the insensitive groping of US airport security staff, along with the use of scanners whose pictures leave very little to the imagination.

You might remember a scene in the classic Schwarzeneggar movie Total Recall where Arnie and others, plus a dog, went through a biometric scanner and you saw just their skeletons.

Well, never mind the 2080s, today's technical reality seems more advanced than 1990s science fiction.

Today's actual devices can reveal the size of one's naughty bits, along with details of any plastic surgery.

No wonder passengers are angry at scanners revealing such blatant and embarrassing nakedness.

US airports have so clearly crossed the line between decency and invasion of privacy.

We will happily accept scans of our irises; We accept facial recognition. Biometric fingerprinting is also fine. Such systems have been in use for some time or are imminent ; They're a convenient and acceptable way to verify one's identity.

Of course, the body scanners are there to provide security in an age of terror.

When we have had hijacked planes crashing into towers, people hiding bombs in their shoes or underpants, then naturally, we have to see what we can do to prevent further atrocities.

Well, El Al, an Israeli airline, is having success with another method. Rather than strip-search passengers, its security staff (which include former soldiers) quiz passengers and analyse their behaviour. To date, this seems to have worked, with no El Al plane reportedly being hijacked. In other words, they use more human intelligence and intuition, rather than invasive technology against every customer.

As a US congressman announces a Bill to maintain the 'dignity' of airline passengers, there seems a clear message here for our own governments, that there is a limit to what the public will accept when it comes to technological security.

Topics: Security, Health, New Zealand

Darren Greenwood

About Darren Greenwood

Darren Greenwood has been in journalism, not all of it IT, since the days of typewriters and long before the web spun its way around the world.

Coming from Yorkshire, he can be blunt, and though having resided in New Zealand, as well as Australia, for quite some time, he insists he is not one of the 'sheeple!'

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  • These security checks have gone way too far and have no demonstrated improvement on detecting and/or preventing terrorist activities.

    Whilst I have no argument about there being security screening I would much rather effort be aimed directly at the terrorists without having the average citizen stripped of their presumption of innocence.

    Some will claim things are different now, with others citing the 'if it happened to you'. All that is true but these security measures aren't achieving anything beyond desensitising us to further perversions of basic human rights. At what point do we say enough is enough? NOW!
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • Irrespective of the myriad issues with the full body scanners (all of which could have been avoided had the yanks adopted some clever distorting software proposed well before they implemented their 'maccas' versions operated by undertrained, underpaid and poorly legally advised personnel), anyone with even the most peripheral involvement with biometrics knows:

    The technology has a massively high fail rate.

    It is particularly ineffective with non caucasian facial types.

    A large proportion Australians and most others will cop abuses of their basic rights if they are told it is for their 'national security', that it will 'protect the children' and they are open to 'cyberwarfare'. The methods of authoritarian elements never change and never will, and good folks will support their own abuse if manipulated carefully enough.