Why this site? I've traveled some in the last few months and encountered all types of security, with absolutely no rhyme or reason. No scanners in DCA or JFK, but they're blazing away in DEN? It's not so much that I'm worried about the invasion of privacy (though I am) or the radiation (although it's a concern) but more about the fact that our government is spending money on a technology which is unproven, reactionary and not foolproof even if it were used consistently. Which it's assuredly not.
So I started keeping track. In SFO, some checkpoints had the security, some didn't. Made no sense. And people on the internet found out. No one yet has emailed to tell me that "I'm giving the 'terrorists' information." Probably because the general public realizes how silly these extra, meaningless levels of security are. Perhaps if we can use the power of information to circumvent these measures, it will convince the powers that be that security shouldn't be reactionary and for show. (These scanners are, of course, reaction to the underwear bomber—and all that guy was successful in doing was neutering himself.)
What would I like? Real, meaningful security. ID checks? They work. Strengthened cockpit doors? Those too. Meaningless limits on liquid size, and workarounds (any bottle marked "saline solution") which lead to easy circumvention? Come on. Security has to be effective and it has to have a benefit which outweighs its cost. I'm all for security and safety. It just has to be the right kind.
What is this site? Originally, this site consisted of a long list of the "statuses" of security (you can view all statuses to get a feeling of what the early, heady days were like). Now that I've learned (?) php and mysql, it is a means to find and submit security statuses in real time. To hold the TSA accountable. And to avoid the nasty machines.
Why the colors? It's my own dig at Homeland Security. We've been at yellow or orange for years. Why not coopt this sillyness, but actually put all the colors to use?!
Aren't you helping the terrorists? See the first question. If the terrorists are so unprepared that they can't figure out on their own not to go through the scanner lines if they have a bomb in their undies, they're probably not going to be successful. There hasn't been a successful terrorist attack in nearly ten years. The shoe bomber was unsuccessful. The liquid plot was too. And the underwear guy was not only unsuccessful but eligible for a Darwin award. Of course, now we are protecting ourselves against plots which didn't work in the past. Does this make sense?
Or, in the words of Bruce Schneier: " Then you're a dumb terrorist and the government will catch you."
Who is behind this? My name is Ari Ofsevit. I have a personal website a Twitter (@ofsevit) and a Facebook (/ofsevit) and all too, which I'm sure you can find if you really want. (Sure, I'll tell you all this, my name's been linked to this already.) I'm not afraid of the Feds coming after me, that would be great, the publicity for the site would soar. They still let me on airplanes (I'm writing this in a holding pattern in to ORD as we speak). I'm proud to live in a country where I can do this. And I don't know much about coding, so if you want to help, let me know.
Is this in a beta or test mode? Oh you better believe it. It's been live for days. Beta would be giving it way too much credit.
Why .net? Some guy bought .com the day after this site first went viral. He's a bad person.
Do you have some political agenda? Actually, no, not in this case. I'm sort of a progressive libertarian—I believe the government has a lot of responsibilities but unbridled invasion of privacy is not one of them. This site has gotten interest from all sides of the aisle (FreeRepublic linked to it for a while, and I'll say that I probably don't agree with them on most things) but it seems like everyone is against the TSA. I kind of feel bad for them. Anyway, welcome all!
Do you support Internet Explorer? Oh, god, no. I've tested this in Safari and Firefox on a Mac and Firefox and Chrome on a PC. If you really must use IE, do so at your own peril.
I want to complain about [Your design/a site bug/your face] or tell you how awesome you are. Do you have email? Yes, and we sometimes remember to check it. Email email@example.com or Tweet @tsastatus