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Congress Wants Your TSA Stories 328

Posted by timothy
from the and-so-do-I dept.
McGruber writes "Transportation Security Administration (TSA) program challenges and failures will be the focus of a joint hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, on Monday, March 26, 2012. The Hearing is titled 'TSA Oversight Part III: Effective Security or Security Theater?' Bruce Schneier is scheduled to be a witness at this hearing. Additional information on the hearing is posted on the oversight committee's website. The Congressmen who serve on these committees are soliciting questions from the public to ask TSA officials at the hearing ... provided the public is willing to submit their questions via Facebook."
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Congress Wants Your TSA Stories

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  • via Facebook only? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:14PM (#39457359) Journal
    There's the first complaint, right there...
  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte AT drunksnipers DOT com> on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:18PM (#39457389) Homepage

    Indeed. It's aol all over again. For someone that doesn't have a facebook account it becomes more and more difficult to access parts of the internet.

  • Questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:20PM (#39457415) Journal

    Is it right to sexually molest every man, woman, and child and get away with it under pretext of security? How does the USA like it's foreign tourist trade now that it's dropped off a cliff?

    That is all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:22PM (#39457433)

    It's about maximizing the number of people they can reach. FB reaches more people than email. If they're going to pick just ONE way to collect feedback, FB is the one that reaches the most people.

    You increasingly see this elsewhere too, like companies who only accept warranty repair contacts on FB. Like it or not, it's becoming the de-facto standard way to communicate online.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:22PM (#39457439)

    The thing that annoys me about the anti-security theater rant, is that in fact there is a non-zero value even to security theater.

    Yes you CAN get past screen checkpoints as we have them. But it does not mean we should give them up totally. Even just a veneer of security can be enough to dissuade a lot of people from trying something, or to make them nervous enough they screw up. It's enough of a deterrent that a lot of people simply will not try who might be convinced otherwise, because signing up to die in a glorious explosion is one thing but being set up to rot in jail is quite another and without honor.

    That said, the TSA as-is has gone way, way too far. We should have an immediate jump back to pre-9/11 security screenings, meaning we all get to keep shoes, bring water, and walk only through metal detectors, not the stupid body scanners that mean you cannot even keep a kleenex in your pocket but you can strap a gun to the side of your body.

    I do not care about the remote chance of a plane being blown up in the air, and there is no way hijacking a plane will succeed any more. Sure they could blow up a plane over a city but that's not going to take out a building as they would like to do. So let us have some dignity and easier passage on to our plane again. Heck, let loved ones meet you at the gate instead of shutting down the airport if one guy gets through the line with an unregistered kleenex by accident.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:32PM (#39457509) Journal

    Yes, there's non-zero value to having some visible security. I would argue that the security checkpoints aren't useful at providing visible security, though; the screeners are not even armed. They're about as relevant to security as the bag checkers on your way out of Fry's. If someone gets caught, they can simply run away, and there's probably a pretty good chance they'd make it to a car waiting for them curbside.

    Want to make people honestly feel safer? Station armed national guard or actual police at every checkpoint like they did right after 9/11. Then ditch the body scanners in lieu of either metal detectors or nothing at all, and perform a cursory X-ray of people's bags. Train the national guard troops to make eye contact with every passenger. That would be about a thousand times more effective at making people feel safer and a billion times more effective at scaring the bejeezus out of would-be attackers than what they're doing now, all while being a lot less invasive for legitimate travelers.

  • by Githaron (2462596) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:33PM (#39457519)
    The internet is not owned by any single entity. Facebook is.
  • by vux984 (928602) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:40PM (#39457567)

    This problem is much cheaper to solve: get a facebook account. The only tie back to you is an email address, and you can buffer that through a throwaway gmail account.

    And agreeing to a 3rd party commercial entities terms of service to participate in democracy doesn't strike you as lunacy?

    Why -exactly- should I need to agree to facebook's terms of use as a prerequisite for any sort of participation or interaction with my elected government?

    Not everything is about the money something costs me. The fact that I -can- get a throwaway facebook account for free in no way changes the fact that I absolutely should not have to.

    This is wrong.

    It may well be convenient for many citizens, and even expedient and efficient for the government, but it is fundamentally wrong.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:59PM (#39457691)
    Since you must have an email account to use facebook and you do not need facebook to have an email account, I would say you are wrong and that email would reach more people.
  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:59PM (#39457693)

    And agreeing to a 3rd party commercial entities terms of service to participate in democracy doesn't strike you as lunacy?

    A. No. Going where the people are seems like a good thing, not lunacy at all. B. You aren't being prevented from participating in democracy. Write a letter if you feel strongly about something. You can't believe that the congress critters will ignore a letter just because they asked for comments via facebook.

    Why -exactly- should I need to agree to facebook's terms of use as a prerequisite for any sort of participation or interaction with my elected government?

    You don't. You are free to participate in ways other than via facebook.

    It may well be convenient for many citizens, and even expedient and efficient for the government, but it is fundamentally wrong.

    You do realize that every form of "participation" requires some action on the part of the citizen, don't you? "We should be allowed to send an email..." means you must have an email account. "We should be able to poke stuff into a web form..." means you must have Internet access AND a web browser. "We should be able to mail them a letter..." means you have to be able to afford a stamp and have the ability to write. Every means of participation inconveniences some citizens. Does that make all of those means of participation "fundamentally wrong"?

    Yes, if facebook charged you money to participate, I'd agree that it was wrong to use facebook for this. Facebook is free. If you already have internet access, you can have facebook for nothing extra. Since the OP was talking about interacting in an internet environment to start with, then whether it is via facebook or email or web makes no significant difference. OTH, the phone company charges you money to call your Senator. Why is the phone company ok and facebook bad? Or do you think the fact that Senators have phones is "fundamentally wrong", too?

    Get a free account under a dummy name. Use a throwaway email address. Don't be stupid and send friend requests to any real people who might out you. Don't post your real information. Don't use a real picture of yourself for your avatar. Do none of the things that would identify you. Do all of the things you would do for any other internet connection or app that would anonymize you. You get to participate, facebook gets nothing. What's your problem with that?

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday March 23, 2012 @08:07PM (#39457733) Journal

    Didn't we say in the pre-9/11 days that you couldn't hijack a plane?

    To my knowledge, nobody said that you couldn't hijack a plane before 9/11. It was always possible, and still is. The assumption was that if a hijacker came on board with a knife, the people would pummel him/her, whereas a gun was considerably more lethal. Thus, they protected against the latter and not the former. What they didn't count on was thirty years of complacency brought about by a lack of incidents.

    Or do we go back to pre-9/11 security screenings until $DISASTER takes place?

    No, we go back to pre-9/11 security screenings, period, even after disasters take place. When you can prove that a newer screening technology significantly improves security without fundamentally invading the privacy of the people being screened, we'll consider it. Short of such proof, we must assume that the new systems aren't actually making us safer, which means that A. we should not be spending millions of dollars every year on them, and B. we should not be subjected to the invasion of privacy that they cause.

  • by causality (777677) on Friday March 23, 2012 @08:26PM (#39457873)

    Yes, how sad that someone who refuses to use facebook for any reason won't get to participate in anything that happens on facebook.

    In that condescending tone you are using I see what you are saying. But you're missing the point.

    The point is, Congress did not have to restrict this only to Facebook account holders. That's the only reason why there is any question of missing anything due to not having such an account. This is the US federal government. It's not like they couldn't afford their own site.

    There is only one reason why such a well-funded, well-connected, powerful organization would do it this way. They want to restrict commentary to Facebook account holders, which is another way to say they only want to hear from people who jump on bandwagons. If you use Facebook there is a slim but non-zero chance you might be an individual who did so by your own decision and not as a result of caving in to some kind of social pressure. But in this day and age if you do not choose to participate in Facebook it is definitely because you are an individual who can resist all of the people trying to get you to jump on the bandwagon.

    Wow, you mean a top-down organization like Congress doesn't want to hear from individuals who can think for themselves and make their own decisions, even going against the way the wind blows? Color me surprised.

    It's a filtering mechanism. That's the only reason to do it this way. You really can't see that? Or is this personal to you -- you do have a Facebook account and don't want to admit that certain inferences can be made about you from that? That's fine and good but it has nothing to do with the effect this has. Two plus two does equal four even if you're really offended about it.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday March 23, 2012 @08:47PM (#39457975)

    In that condescending tone you are using I see what you are saying. But you're missing the point.

    Sarcasm often sounds condescending. I got the point. The point is specious.

    The point is, Congress did not have to restrict this only to Facebook account holders.

    They didn't. Where does it say, other than in the summary, that the only way of sending questions is via facebook? Answer: it doesn't. Fax your question. Email it. Nothing says only facebook will be accepted. It says members will accept questions via facebook -- which is a new thing and merits a specific comment so people know they CAN do it that way -- not that they will ONLY accept questions via facebook. They list the names of the members of the committee, you can use that information to contact them in any way you see fit.

    You see, you sometimes on slashdot have to read the original material to get the true story. The summaries are sometimes wrong. Gasp. And sometimes they are wrong in a way intended to cause alarm and vast amounts of jumping up and down and moral outrage about something that isn't happening.

    They want to restrict commentary to Facebook account holders, which is another way to say they only want to hear from people who jump on bandwagons.

    They aren't restricting comments, so your entire bandwagon argument is flummery. And what does joining facebook so you can use facebook to send a comment to your congressman say about you? It means you joined facebook so you can send your comment to a congressman. It doesn't mean you "jump on bandwagons". You don't have to do any of the other stuff facebook is used for. It's a TOOL. How you use it is up to you. You can use it for all the social stuff like sharing pics with strangers or posting comments on other people's walls to make them look stupid or playing stupid games or joining corporate marketing campaigns, or whatever use it is that you feel merits deragatory remarks about people who use facebook. Or you can use it for the things you want to, like sending a comment to a congressman and nothing else.

    It's a tool. If you use a hammer to drive in screws, you are a moron and a fool. If you use the hammer to drive nails, you aren't. Same tool. Different uses. Different users.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Friday March 23, 2012 @09:15PM (#39458145)

    "We should be allowed to send an email..." means you must have an email account.

    I can choose any of umteen zillion mail providers, or self host if I'm so inclined.

    "We should be able to poke stuff into a web form..." means you must have Internet access AND a web browser.

    And I've spoken out before against government dictating what browser we use too. Remember when a lot of government sites only worked with Internet Explorer? Was that ever a "good thing"?

    "We should be able to mail them a letter..." means you have to be able to afford a stamp and have the ability to write.

    The country has a publicly funded school system to teach you... you really don't have much to complain about.
    As for the stamp... Canada lets you write your representatives without one. Good idea there.

    Facebook is free. Get a free account under a dummy name. You get to participate, facebook gets nothing. What's your problem with that?

    So your solution is to violate facebooks terms of service? So not only do you want me to deal with specific commercial entity I dislike, but you would have me violate my agreement with them too...

    I don't have a facebook account because I don't want to agree to their terms of services, because I have principles. Not because I don't think I could get away with lying to them. Your attitude is what is wrong with the world...

  • Re:Questions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nazsco (695026) on Friday March 23, 2012 @09:25PM (#39458209) Journal

    happen to have a comparisson with global tourism size?

    what if for every other country it doubled instead of 12% a year?

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Friday March 23, 2012 @09:29PM (#39458237) Homepage

    You do realize that every form of "participation" requires some action on the part of the citizen, don't you? "We should be allowed to send an email..." means you must have an email account. "We should be able to poke stuff into a web form..." means you must have Internet access AND a web browser. "We should be able to mail them a letter..." means you have to be able to afford a stamp and have the ability to write. Every means of participation inconveniences some citizens. Does that make all of those means of participation "fundamentally wrong"?

    I believe the problem is that you are forced to use a single company, which can censor your posts or shut you off whenever they want. None of your examples have the same issue.

    Yes, if facebook charged you money to participate, I'd agree that it was wrong to use facebook for this. Facebook is free. If you already have internet access, you can have facebook for nothing extra. Since the OP was talking about interacting in an internet environment to start with, then whether it is via facebook or email or web makes no significant difference. OTH, the phone company charges you money to call your Senator. Why is the phone company ok and facebook bad? Or do you think the fact that Senators have phones is "fundamentally wrong", too?

    There are other costs besides monetary. By using Facebook, you're promoting a company that makes money off of spying on people (no, not only what they choose to put there about themselves). http://www.betabeat.com/2011/12/13/in-which-eben-moglen-like-legit-yells-at-me-for-being-on-facebook/ [betabeat.com]

    Get a free account under a dummy name. Use a throwaway email address. Don't be stupid and send friend requests to any real people who might out you. Don't post your real information. Don't use a real picture of yourself for your avatar. Do none of the things that would identify you. Do all of the things you would do for any other internet connection or app that would anonymize you. You get to participate, facebook gets nothing. What's your problem with that?

    What you're suggesting is against their ToS, which might be a crime under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    Also, Facebook still gets benefit of being validated as a proper communication channel for constituents, therefore entrenching their position of control over everyone's communications. It's littering, as Mr. Moglen says.

  • Dramatic stories (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rbowen (112459) Works for SourceForge on Friday March 23, 2012 @09:56PM (#39458345) Homepage

    The focus on dramatic stories is misplaced. The simple loss of dignity in traveling should be sufficient. I'm tired of being assumed to be a criminal when I travel.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2012 @10:06PM (#39458377)

    How does using facebook to post a message on the committee wall in the manner I suggested violate your privacy in any way?

    Unless you are a privacy freak, facebook has been tracking the crap out of your web-browsing for the last X months/years with all of those "like" buttons. Creating an account and then making a political statement is a bunch more dots for facebook to connect with all of the other dots they've already got on you.

  • Re:Questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Friday March 23, 2012 @10:16PM (#39458413)

    That's because most people are sheep.

    What an original idea! You sir, have proven that you are not a sheep!

    Very much against your original intent, you have provided a great illustration of a certain blindness principle.

    When someone makes a good point that's true and valid, and you happen to find it painfully uncomfortable because it's a bit too true, why that's easy! Just get political! Take the point they made, put a little twist on it, and turn it around to try to falsely reflect it back on the person pointing it out. This has two effects. First, it takes a generally true statement and makes it into a personal ad-hominem statement. That's a sure distraction technique. Second, it discredits the truth of the statement without ever having to formulate a refutation. It's the lazy, stupid man's way of effecting a dismissal.

    And all the while you get to remain in your comfortable little bubble where most people are not blind sheep who place far too much importance on things that can be centrally controlled like mass media. That's why you stoop to what amount to crude PR tactics against this poster: he was threatening to pop your bubble, making him the enemy, making any below-the-belt dismissal immediately appealing to you.

    This capacity, this mentality is why people don't rise up en masse and reject the bullshit they're spoonfed on a daily basis. Because attacking the messenger like a spoiled child is so much easier, and so much more convenient than taking on severe systemic problems.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Friday March 23, 2012 @10:23PM (#39458429)

    'm glad someone finally picked up on that. On slashdot, everyone laughs at unenforcable shrink wrap licenses. Most people have utter disdain for copyright and patent. And yet, a facebook TOS is sacrosanct? ROTFL.

    Like I said, I'm not the least bit worried about whether I can "get away with it".

    I have no respect for facebook or its crappy tos. However I respect myself too much to voluntarily enter into an agreement with them, and then violate it. First I give it legitimacy by agreeing to it, and then I strip myself of any moral high ground by violating it.

    I respect -myself- too much for that.

  • Re:Questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fluffy99 (870997) on Friday March 23, 2012 @10:40PM (#39458477)

    Wow, US tourism is absolutely booming! That's an increase of at least 4% (average of 8%) every year for nearly a decade!

    The reason for that is the weak US dollar. We have a govt that is artificially keeping "inflation" low to convince the public we aren't in a recession, but at the same time printing money like crazy and devaluing the dollar. We have lots of foreigners coming here for vacation because it's cheap for them.

    http://www.wealthdaily.com/articles/us-dollar-value/2627 [wealthdaily.com]

  • by shiftless (410350) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @12:08AM (#39458779) Homepage

    Nobody cares about "communicating with the Congressman." If we wanted to do that, we could easily write one any day of the week and send it in, only to get a form letter back (if you're lucky) explaining why you're wrong and how your letter doesn't affect shit, but thanks for wasting everyone's time anyway.

    The real complaint some people are making here is that a supposedly "public" discussion is taking place in a closed off, walled off private community. So if the guy wants to air his voice in this "public forum", he effectively can't do so without having to agree to 3rd party terms and conditions. This isn't how a democracy is supposed to work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 24, 2012 @12:14AM (#39458801)

    Clearly, using Facebook logins to register your stories is an effort to catalog dissenting citizens. What else could it be?

  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @01:13AM (#39458963)
    Try to post a Guardian link... There's and app for that... Really... A fucking app to read a web page. Not.
  • by andymadigan (792996) <amadigan@@@gmail...com> on Saturday March 24, 2012 @04:04AM (#39459393)
    I'm 23, I work for a Well Known Bay Area E-Commerce Company, I'm a software engineer (I've been working as one since I was 18). I was in college for a year and a half, and I joined facebook when they only allowed college students. I used to use it every day, now I barely log in to facebook once a week. Whenever I see a commenting system or site that wants access to my facebook profile, I refuse. I stopped liking facebook when they set it up so I 'liked' the page for every TV show I listed in my interests, allowing them to infect my news feed with corporate crap. For the same reason, I don't allow any apps access to my profile.

    Besides that, people under 30 aren't the only ones who should have input into this. An e-mail address is sufficient for commenting on most news sites, and it should be sufficient for this. Facebook as an option is fine, but that should be a lower priority than providing access to everyone. Government is supposed to be about everyone having a voice.
  • by Dr. Evil (3501) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @05:06AM (#39459537)

    If I were an oppressive government, I'd use the additional information about the person posting the questions to bias the discussion. e.g., their age and gender, where they're from, where they grew up, who their friends are, whether or not they're politically active and their political bent. I'd also discard questions from people without a reasonable circle of friends (they're probably fake).

    If I were the TSA and had random far-reaching powers, I might start using Facebook to find out who my enemies are, who's speaking out against me and where that social meme originated. It's a handy database.

    This is a dangerous precedent for so many reasons.

  • by Kludge (13653) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @06:52AM (#39459729)

    Telnet (http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc854.txt) and RPC (http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1831.txt) are standard protocols that anyone can implement. "Facebook" is not. "Facebook" is a closed propriety system completely controlled by a single individual who can for any reason eliminate anyone's account or use their data for any purpose that suits him.

  • by tburkhol (121842) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @07:35AM (#39459865)

    Besides that, people under 30 aren't the only ones who should have input into this.

    This is very important to remember. People under 30 were under 19 when TSA was imposed. They've lived their entire traveling lives under the 'new' system, and have little or no recall of the more reasonable and traveler-friendly screening processes. By choosing a communication mode biased towards younger people, they're excluding a large portion of our greater social memory.

  • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @08:06AM (#39459965)

    Not just the Guardian. there's several websites that have gone the way of requiring you allow their app to access your profile in order to click the link that somebody posted. I have platform apps disabled, and when I encounter this one, I move on, but I do feel sorry for all the people who don't realize that allowing this app to access your profile means you just gave all of your personal information to the website whose story you were trying to read.

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