Archive for January, 2010

TSA to Terrorists: I’ll show you mine if…


After a failed bombing aboard a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas day, it looks like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the “underwear bomber”) will do for whole-body imaging what Richard Reid (the “shoe bomber”) did for the rule that all shoes be sent through an x-ray scanner.

Whole body imaging (known in the media as a “virtual strip search”) uses either backscatter X-rays or millimeter wave technology to create a detailed view of the passenger’s body by constructing images from the X-ray photons or radiation reflected by the body. As I have noted before, whole-body imaging is one of the most effective way of detecting passengers carrying weapons or explosives. Nobody expects this to be a silver bullet in the fight against terror, but it may very well be an important layer in improving the security of air travel.

Unfortunately, most of the public debate over whole-body imaging has not focused on the merits or shortcomings of the technology, but rather on the privacy implications of the technology. Groups like Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), Electronic Privacy and Information Center (EPIC) and the Privacy Coalition have all argued vehemently against the technology

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New Year’s Resolution: Stop Stealing to Save American Jobs

Would the U.S. government turn a blind eye to the theft of hundreds of thousands of GM vehicles each year? Of course not. Yet, large-scale theft occurs every day on the Internet from U.S. companies with little recourse. And the end result is still the same–lost sales translate into lost jobs.

In early 2000, increasingly fast Internet connections and cheap storage led to a rapid growth of digital piracy–the theft of music, movies, TV programs, software, video games, books, photos and periodicals. A decade later, Internet users around the world still download pirated content at an alarming rate. Much of this stolen content originates from the United States and digital pirates are expanding into new areas such as illegally streaming live programming like sports events. The government has done relatively little to stop this, which in turn is hurting American businesses and workers alike.

Some people see Internet piracy as nothing more than a digital version of Robin Hood–stealing from the rich to give to the poor. While this “David versus Goliath” style populism is trendy–even one British priest has blessed shoplifting as long as it is from big

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