TSA responds to anti porno-scanner activist

The response to the video about the worthlessness of $1 billion worth of machines is what you might imagine from the TSA. It lacks any details on how effective the porno scanners really are and asks travelers to trust them. Digital Trends:

We reached out to the TSA regarding the video and TSA spokesperson, Lisa Farbestein, informed Digital Trends that the video was, “a crude attempt to allegedly show how to circumvent TSA screening procedures.” She declined to go into detail about the technology but the confidence in the machines was evident. “TSA conducts extensive testing of all screening technologies in the laboratory and at airports prior to rolling them out the field,” Farbestein said. “Imaging technology has caught many items large and small, and is one of the most effective tools available to detect metallic and non-metallic items, such as the greatest threat to aviation, explosives.”

When they say “has caught many items” what are they talking about? This could and probably does mean anything such as toenail clippers or anything metal left in a pocket. They still don’t address the key point made by Jonathan Corbett which is how easy it can be to have something on the side of your body as you go through the machines. Because of the high false positives, the time constraints of airport traffic, plus the dangers of too much radiation, multiple scans is not practical. According to Corbett, low tech changes such as reinforced doors have had a much more significant impact on security. Adding sniffer dogs could be much more productive, but that industry doesn’t have the same lobbying power as the one that sells expensive machines. Having former Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff as a lobbyist (and fear monger) probably doesn’t hurt the porno-scanning industry.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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