EU – No to X-Ray Scanners

For those who don’t know, the European Union has much stronger safety and privacy laws than the US. The EU just announced their new official policy for the deployment of airport scanners. Two key quotes:

It is still for each Member State or airport to decide whether or not to deploy security scanners, but these new rules ensure that where this new technology is used it will be covered by EU wide standards on detection capability as well as strict safeguards to protect health and fundamental rights.

In order not to risk jeopardising citizens’ health and safety, only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are added to the list of authorised methods for passenger screening at EU airports.

If only TSA would accept that dosing people with X-rays and taking nude pictures of them isn’t actually necessary for security! Hopefully the new EU regulations will spur Congress to pass similar laws that protect the health and privacy of Americans. As Scientific American reports, the TSA is planning on deploying over 1800 scanners in airports across the country. Write your Representative and Senators now to encourage them to follow the EU’s lead in protecting citizens!

Clearly Screwed

The Clear Registered Traveler program was a service that basically collected a bunch of information about you, ran a background check, then gave you a card that let you skip to the front of the security line at 20 airports around the country. Since Dulles International Airport was one of them, I signed up for the card a little over a year ago. I’d had good experiences with it, and renewed it for $179 in May this year.

Then on June 22nd, Clear abruptly announced that they were closing operations effective immediately. (News which I learned about via Twitter before I learned about it from Clear’s customer service email. Viva la revolution!) The first order of business was to call American Express and dispute the charge from Clear. Clear has since announced that they won’t be issuing refunds due to the “financial condition of the company”. (In other words, they be broke.) This is why you should always use a credit card for purchases, kids. It’s a lot easier to dispute a charge on a credit card than a debit card.
Anyway, the more disturbing thing about the Clear closure is that they have a huge amount of personal information about their customers – iris photos, fingerprints, names, addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers, etc. It’s really their most valuable asset – to a prospective purchaser or to a hacker. I reviewed their privacy policy again the day I found out about the closure, and it seems to indicate that they can’t sell the data. But as this Wired article points out, the policy isn’t explicit about what happens if the company is liquidated or acquired.

So now I’m wondering if I should try to get an injunction against them transferring all my personal information to a third party… Good luck with that, right?