Just Say No to Government Trouser Invasion [Updated]

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Via the blog of security expert Bruce Schneier, here's an excerpt from a very funny post by journalist and lawyer David Allen Green about an encounter he had with airline security at Heathrow last year:

“Sir, your trousers.”


“Sir, please take your trousers off.”

A pause.



The security official clearly was not expecting that response.

He begins to look like he doesn’t know what to do, bless him. 

“You have no power to require me to do that. You also haven’t also given any good reason. I am sure any genuine security concerns you have can be addressed in other ways. You do not need to invade my privacy in this manner.”

A pause. 

“I think you probably need to get your manager, don’t you?”

I am trying to be helpful.

The story ends reasonably well, though the ending reinforces the point that airline security procedures elsewhere make no more sense than ours do. (The security team Allen encountered apparently worked for the airline [which was not a UK airline, by the way], so this may not have been an attempted "government" trouser invasion, but words like "official" or "unauthorized" didn't quite seem to work in that headline.) The whole post (like both blogs) is definitely worth reading.

The lesson, of course, is to know your rights (the ones you have left, anyway) and calmly assert them if necessary, because it very well could be that the person you're confronted with just has no idea what they're doing. Sometimes they even mean well and just need to be educated.

Don't get me wrong – there's plenty to be outraged about.