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JANUARY 11, 2010 8:48AM

German Pirate flashmobs protest enhanced airport scanners

Rate: 15 Flag

 Frankfurt Pirates

WHEN THE GERMAN PIRATE Party first raised its black flag last spring and stormed ahead to receive a promising but ultimately unremarkable 2 percent in the September Bundestag election, I thought this event was worthy of a thorough write-up in an OS post. I also assumed the movement had peaked. While I may well be right about that, the group is still out there capturing headlines the way it does best: through calculated provocations and a keen sense of drama.

As I wrote yesterday, the German police union has reversed its policy against backscatter security scanners, which virtually strip air passengers naked as they pass through airport security checkpoints. The German government is likely to overturn its ban some time soon and the rest of the European Union is set to follow. As it turns out, this is just the sort of news that brings the Pirates - who have transformed the struggle against "glass people" into the battle cry of the digital generation - out of their winter hibernation.

On Sunday, January 10, dozens of Pirates flocked to the main airports of Frankfurt/Main, Berlin, and Düsseldorf to stage demonstrations against the future deployment of the new scanners. The buccaneers stripped down to their underwear and marched through the airports chanting "You don't need to scan us - we're already naked!" They also claimed to be heading for Flight GO1984, a refererence to George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In a few minutes, it was all over - a good idea, considering the frigid winter weather. Organizers had contacted the participants in these so-called flashmobs (or, as the Pirates were calling them yesterday, "fleshmobs") via Internet and cell phone. The protests did not disrupt travel and no arrests were made.

Pirate protester 
Pirate protester in Frankfurt on Sunday:
"Security is an illusion! The private sphere represents human dignity!"

While it's unlikely that protests such as these are going to prevent or even slow the introduction of nude scanners at European airports over the coming year, it's still good to see that at least the Pirates are looking out for our basic privacy rights.

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Yikes. Fleshmobs is right, Alan. Thanks again for an informative report.
How creative and amusing. I'm impressed and they look like they are having a good time protesting. We need to do something like this in the US. I could use some entertaining in the long lines at the airport. - and yes, as the sign says, "security is an illusion."
That's the sort of thing that makes me want to move to Europe. At least there are a few souls out there who want to be more than just obedient sheeple. Great report, Alan.
Yoiks! The Germans have a sense of humor??? When did that start?
Makes me proud to be a pirate!
right, Stellaa, about the nakedness - I can hear the outcry now, "why do you need to be naked to prove a point?" when that _is_ the point.

in the US, young women are tackled to the ground and arrested - outside the airport, not in the terminal - for wearing sweatshirts with LEDs on them. Protesters? in a US airport? _not_ gunned down?
Americans, of course, will remain in line talking quietly amongst themselves when this comes to pass here, where only the guilty have something to hide.
But they are wearing underpants! There could be bombs in there!
Fun story, Alan. You know if this "fleshmob" protest had happened in the U.S. they would've been arrested and registered as sex offenders.
That video makes me want to join the Pirate Party.
Actually, I wish we had such protestors here. Sadly, if we did, they would either have been shot or given a the status of being sex offenders. In this country, people would consent to being given pap smears and anal-rectal exams prior to flight if they thought it might make them safe.