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Transportation Security Administration

A Friendly Suggestion on Products Designed to Conceal Sensitive Areas

Friday, January 07, 2011
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Throughout history, there have been many creative products offered to consumers that promise to make certain parts of their lives easier. Some work better than others, and well... some just don’t work at all. What am I getting at? I’m getting at the products folks have created that are designed to shield private areas of passengers going through our Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT).

Remember the post (Message In a Carry-On) about the artist who designs metal plates for baggage with messages that appear on the X-ray monitor? This is very similar to that. If there is something shielding an area and we don’t know what’s under it, we have to conduct a pat-down.

So basically, passengers should be aware that the use of these types of products will likely result in a pat-down. Some might think this is TSA’s way of getting back at clever passengers. That’s not the case at all. It’s just security.

We're certainly not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t buy or wear, but I feel it’s only fair to give you a heads up on your choice of attire.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on
If there is something shielding an area and we don’t know what’s under it, we have to conduct a pat-down.

Thanks for the admission that the AIT machines produce images detailed enough so operators can clearly see genitalia.
Submitted by Anonymous on

So you are saying that if a passengers genitals are not shown in graphic and explicit detail then that passenger will face a manual inspection of their genitals.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I hope whomever is responsible for this policy is fired and subsequently investigated. It is obvious to everyone that these activities are entirely counter productive to the goal of ensuring safety in travel.

That you would go so far to further such an obviously failed effort is truly disturbing.

Submitted by Anonymous on

finally something i agree with! i don't know if these people are thinking they're "sticking it to the man" (or woman) but to think that it won't up their chances of even more hassle at the checkpoint is ridiculously short-sighted on their part.

not worth it imho.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, how does it feel telling citizens what kind of panties they should wear?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Just another example of how incompetent the TSA is. I travel the world and the US is the biggest joke of security. The US should take the example from the European Airports. Quick, effective security administered by law enforcement, not rent-a-cops. Sad that we're spending so much money and inconveniencing so many for a false sense of security in the US.

Submitted by Wayne on

Anonymous said...
Just another example of how incompetent the TSA is. I travel the world and the US is the biggest joke of security. The US should take the example from the European Airports. Quick, effective security administered by law enforcement, not rent-a-cops. Sad that we're spending so much money and inconveniencing so many for a false sense of security in the US.

HuH? What?
Does anyone remember what country the underwear bomber departed from?
European security quick and effective! Don't make me laugh.
Obviously most of you posting here have never traveled outside of your Mom's basement.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This makes good sense and only the deliberately ignorant will fail to understand. The machine is designed to detect things under cloths that should not be there, might be dangerous, etc. If you put something in the cloths that makes it impossible for the machine to see through... then the Officer is forced to double check it personally. Perhaps very personally.

It's sorta like the guy wearing a t-shirt with a marijuanna leaf on it, driving a car with a cloud of mj smoke in the cab and an open can of suds in the cup holder who gets upset when he's pulled over and the cop wants to check to see if he's driving under the influence. You ask for it and then are surprised when you get it? Grow up!

For the anonymous folks going off on the "admission...genitalia" tangent. No, Bob did not say that. If you cover it so the machine can't see behind it... someobody is going to have to touch it. As they told me in boot camp many years ago, stand by to stand by.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Bob, how does it feel telling citizens what kind of panties they should wear?

Did you even read the post?

"We're certainly not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t buy or wear, but I feel it’s only fair to give you a heads up on your choice of attire."

If you want to hold up your travel, by all means, wear the goofy underwear. You'll be the only one laughing.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey anonymous who said..."It is obvious to everyone that these activities are entirely counter productive to the goal of ensuring safety in travel" .... what'r you smoking? If the machine can see the plastic explosive I've hidden under my robe but the metal detector can't... how is the image scanner failing?

The failure is your mind if ya can't figure that out. Honestly, nobody cares about your junk and it ain't all that to begin with. I got one two, just mine sags more cause I'm old.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It is unbelievable in the United States of America that a government agency states they need to see you naked to board a plane.

1. When are you going to post information regarding the health effects of the AIT machines based on an independent study?

2. When are you going to publish the process for firing a TSA officer that invades a taxpayer's privacy?

3. When are you going to address protecting a taxpayers personal property on the security belt while they are being "patted down"?

The TSA will be studied in future college courses as to how out of touch they can become with their customers - the American taxpayer. Clearly every American taxpayer is going to have to demand change from their Congress person. The TSA is out of control - your a disgrace to every law abiding taxpaying American citizen.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm just curious how even with the "enhanced pat-downs" that the TSA will be able to tell what the item/underwear is without a strip search. Supposedly they cannot cup or grip genitalia in any form/fashion.

What this post tells me is that we can look forward to more erosion of our rights as citizens.

For those of you who think this is OK please feel free to move to a another country where these actions are the norm.

Submitted by Anonymous on

When is the TSA going to release the XRay dosage range of the machines?

You are being sued to release this information, Congress has ordered you to, and you don't allow your employees to wear radiation badges to measure exposure.

At the same time you are claiming the machines are safe when all independent experts are saying that "no exposure to ionizing radiation is safe".

When is Napolitano going into the machines? When do we see Obama put his daughters in the machines?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Here is the thing, Bob- we don't trust you or your officers. Anyone who wants can do a google search on "tsa" "measuring" to see what graphic term TSO's call AIT machines, and yet you deny that these machines strip of us our privacy?
I am against these machines for one reason only: I don't trust that the TSO putting people through AITs is not sending hot chicks through to give his buddy screening the images a thrill. Until you can tell me that this never happens, I will support every legal effort to get these scanners out of our airports.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"The machine is designed to detect things under cloths that should not be there, might be dangerous, etc."

Like colostomy bags, prosthetic breasts, adult diapers, and other private and harmless medical devices that are the only things your nude-o-scopes are actually detecting?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
It is unbelievable in the United States of America that a government agency states they need to see you naked to board a plane.

1. When are you going to post information regarding the health effects of the AIT machines based on an independent study?

They have, multiple times, since it is not the answer you believe to be true in your head you refuse to believe it or recognize it as fact!

2. When are you going to publish the process for firing a TSA officer that invades a taxpayer's privacy?

What do you mean "publish"
If a TSA officer is not doing their job properly, and there is malicious intent the individual is fired...what more is there to say?

3. When are you going to address protecting a taxpayers personal property on the security belt while they are being "patted down"?

The policy has always been to keep the passenger withtheir property in their line of vision or with a traveling companion...how many cases of theft happen due to your perceived notion that the individual is kept from their property happen on a daily basis to the MILLIONS of people who fly each and every day?? Am I saying it never happens, no, but a majority of thefts that occur in any airport are due to the confusion and stress level of the individual who allow themselves to be distracted from their domain awarness...i.e. leaving their bag unattended whil figuring out what gate to go to, corraling traveling companions, etc....

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob says: " Some might think this is TSA’s way of getting back at clever passengers. That’s not the case at all. It’s just security."
No, it was "just security" when we could be checked out and board a plane.
Making sure that nobody can hide their genitals and nipples isn't "just security," it is a power-hungry agency out of control.
Please stop fighting the public on this!

Submitted by Anonymous on

What a disgrace you people are. You are threatening to grab peoples genitals if they don't wear the correct underwear. I don't know how you "feel it's only fair". It's fair to give people a choice and what you are doing is giving a thinly veiled threat.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Actually, Bob, you & your coworkers have told and continue to tell women that they will be sexually assaulted by invasive body searches if they wear head coverings, jewelry, underwire bras, long skirts, tight skirts, loose pants, cultural clothing like saris, religious clothing (like turbans for men), menstrual napkins, & various medically necessary devices and items.

I suggest you update your blog post to reflect the truth.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...

The policy has always been to keep the passenger withtheir property in their line of vision or with a traveling companion...how many cases of theft happen due to your perceived notion that the individual is kept from their property happen on a daily basis to the MILLIONS of people who fly each and every day?? Am I saying it never happens, no, but a majority of thefts that occur in any airport are due to the confusion and stress level of the individual who allow themselves to be distracted from their domain awarness...i.e. leaving their bag unattended whil figuring out what gate to go to, corraling traveling companions, etc....

January 7, 2011 5:50 PM

This is an outright lie. I have personally had my belongings removed from my line of sight while being made to use the AIT and/or being subjected to a pat-down.

Try again and tell the truth not policy which is at best and an absolute lie at worst.

If you enjoy this type of abuse by our government, supposedly for the people and by the people (what a joke). Please feel free to move to another country that suits your thinking.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The person who responded to this post is clearly a TSA employee who offers no facts...that's the problem! Frequent travelers like myself don't believe the TSA officers who are usually uneducated and have limited training. Where's the information and/or TSA policies that supports your replies? Seeing is believing!

It is unbelievable in the United States of America that a government agency states they need to see you naked to board a plane.

1. When are you going to post information regarding the health effects of the AIT machines based on an independent study?

They have, multiple times, since it is not the answer you believe to be true in your head you refuse to believe it or recognize it as fact!

2. When are you going to publish the process for firing a TSA officer that invades a taxpayer's privacy?

What do you mean "publish"
If a TSA officer is not doing their job properly, and there is malicious intent the individual is fired...what more is there to say?

3. When are you going to address protecting a taxpayers personal property on the security belt while they are being "patted down"?

The policy has always been to keep the passenger withtheir property in their line of vision or with a traveling companion...how many cases of theft happen due to your perceived notion that the individual is kept from their property happen on a daily basis to the MILLIONS of people who fly each and every day?? Am I saying it never happens, no, but a majority of thefts that occur in any airport are due to the confusion and stress level of the individual who allow themselves to be distracted from their domain awarness...i.e. leaving their bag unattended whil figuring out what gate to go to, corraling traveling companions, etc....

Submitted by Sam on

Bob, do you understand why people wear clothing? One of its primary purposes is to protect the wearer from the vision of others. "Others" includes, believe it or not, government officials and lackeys.

More than one religion has modesty as a basic tenet - meaning in order to fly, you are requiring people (such as myself) to violate our basic beliefs and long-held traditions, for an absurdly small benefit, according to your own PR blog.

And driving or taking a train or bus is not a valid alternative for traveling anywhere more than a few hundred miles. I live in Maryland. If I want to visit my elderly grandmother in Colorado, I can either fly for 6 hours or drive for 4 days. Trains and buses take even longer. This means that removing my option to fly is a very effective restriction on my Constitutional right to travel.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
Bob says: " Some might think this is TSA’s way of getting back at clever passengers. That’s not the case at all. It’s just security."
No, it was "just security" when we could be checked out and board a plane.
Making sure that nobody can hide their genitals and nipples isn't "just security," it is a power-hungry agency out of control.
Please stop fighting the public on this!

And then bad people with intent to kill us used aircrafts as missles and killed 3000 of our brother and sister Americans and things changed. It's sad to see that there are people out there who have forgotten that day and act like it's still September 10, 2001 today...

Submitted by 1916home Net on

Its a sad state of the country we live in when everyone has to post anonymously. In a free society, we should be able to voice our opinions openly without any repercussions. Obviously, thats not the case anymore. We have achieved the level of fascism here in America with secret service paying people visits now for commenting about the president. Whats next - a Soviet system where people will just be taken away?

Did the TSA blog cover the pilot recently who did a youtube video on how easy it is for anyone with a security card to pass through doors? Those baggage guys have those tags and they come and go as they please. I think thats far more important that junk touching.

There are 50,000 car accident deaths a year and you arent patting Americans down each time we get into a car.

There are 300,000 people a year dying each year of malaria. Those dont get patted down, groped and searched.

And how many died in 9/11? 3,000 or so? Just saying.

Clearly, the pat downs are more of an intimidation measure than anything else.

-1916home.net

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA security is no big deal. Anyone that been through the intake section of a prison system knows the reality of security. It keeps both the inmates and the staff safe.

I think that if time permits, TSA staff should give full body cavity searches on each crew member and passenger on a flight. There'd be no missed items then.

Keep on keepin' on, TSA!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why does the TSA even have a blog?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Some day, this period will be viewed as the time when this nation reached a historical low point - when citizens - even the aged, disabled and toddlers - were being sexually groped and invaded, and their most intimate parts viewed by total strangers, on the million to one chance that they were a terrorist.
By the way, what's TSA planning to do when a real terrorist hides something in a body cavity? Will we all be subject to proctological or gynecological exams before we can fly? (I can imagine Blogger Bob's answer: "We can't reveal that at this time.") I would not put such an outrage past the ham-handed fools that are currently running the TSA. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Submitted by Dave on

Are the AIT machines more cost effective than requiring all passengers to be strip searched?

Submitted by Ayn R Key on
I’m getting at the products folks have created that are designed to shield private areas of passengers going through our Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT).

Could you be a little more descriptive please? I'm not sure I know exactly what you are talking about.
Submitted by Avxo on

Anonymous wrote: "This makes good sense and only the deliberately ignorant will fail to understand. The machine is designed to detect things under cloths that should not be there, might be dangerous, etc."

Except it doesn't really work. A recent study published in the Journal of Transportation Security concludes:

"It is very likely that a large (15-20 cm in diameter), irregularly-shaped, cm-thick pancake with beveled edges, taped to the abdomen, would be invisible to this technology, ironically, because of its large volume, since it is easily confused with normal anatomy. Thus, a third of a kilo of PETN, easily picked up in a competent pat down, would be missed by backscatter "high technology". Forty grams of PETN, a purportedly dangerous amount, would fit in a 1.25 mm-thick pancake of the dimensions simulated here and be virtually invisible."

But wait! There's more!

The authors go on to say: "The images are very sensitive to the presence of large pieces of high Z material, e. g., iron, but unless the spatial resolution is good, thin wires will be missed because of partial volume effects. It is also easy to see that an object such as a wire or a box-cutter blade, taped to the side of the body, or even a small gun in the same location, will be invisible."

But hey, it's only a small gun. Let's focus on the crotch area instead.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Fortunately, my company has opted out. Out of commercial air travel. Because of this and your agency. We are no longer allowed to fly on commercial jets. Trains, buses and private cars and aircraft. Our risk management and accounting department has determined it is now worth the risk in dealing with your agency on company business.

And I will wear whatever underwear I please when I travel.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So if scanning and/or patting down is CRITICAL to security, why aren't you patting people down at airports that don't have these scanners? How stupid do you think these terrorist are that they wouldn't go to a small regional airport, get through the metal detectors, and fly to a major airport...pat downs and scanners easily avoided by the ones you are really trying to catch.

Submitted by Geez on

Your choice of topics is baffling. If you are so interested in helping people out with their wardrobe choices why not go further and list other items that might trigger a patdown? If you can inform the public that wearing one type of clothing might lead to a patdown why not others?

TO several other commenters - you don't seem to understand what the machines do or what the clothing do The machines don't detect explosives, only anomalies, hence the number of people that get patdowns after the scanners for dangerous items like pocket lint and fabric folds. If supposed modesty-preserving briefs are form fitting and normal fabric except for a small area over the genitals, it's hard to imagine why this would be anomalous unless the genital outline was expected.

Submitted by Russell on

Bob,

You used the phrase; "private areas". And they are just that, private. The TSA is invading our privacy. Here's hoping that 2011 will bring policy changes that will restore our dignity when we choose to travel.

RRS

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob you and your TSA agents can try till your blue in the face you will never get me in one of your machines. Not a stinking one of you are trained in radiology. What gives the TSA the right to use machines they are not qualified to use. I am looking forward to the day when the TSA starts losing all the law suits. Ten years from now when frequent flyers who get cancer comes after this agency and the government, what are you going to be blogging then.

Submitted by Anonymous on
If there is something shielding an area and we don’t know what’s under it, we have to conduct a pat-down.

Does this include Feminine Hygiene products and adult diapers? If so, exactly what kind of 'pat down' will be done?? I imagine this pat down must be pretty invasive to determine the difference between a maxi pad and a maxi pad with a C-4 liner. Or will you be swabbing, and testing for explosive residue, the 1 in 4 women who are on their periods??


What about men who wear an athletic supporter w/cup? What kind of 'pat down' can determine if the cup is lined with explosive? Again, I imagine it's a pretty invasive one. If I am wrong on that, please explain.
Submitted by Anonymous on

This is friendly advice the way an enhanced pat-down is a friendly touch.

Submitted by Concerned Observer on

What other products might result in a pat-down? Feminine hygiene pads? The string from a tampon (for which a pat-down would do NOTHING since the tampon is within a body cavity)? Adult diapers? Fart-filtering underwear(yes, they do exist)? A bandage on one's abdomen from a chest tube (which could result in an extremely painful pat/rub down)? What about slimming undergarments? And what about a transsexual who has recently had the male-to-female surgery and has bandages?

TSOs have consistently disrespected their fellow human beings who have medical restrictions, whether is be prosthetics, breast milk (oh, look, another story about breast milk... http://www.anktangle.com/2011/01/tsa-x-rayed-my-breastmilk.html ), or the simple fact that they cannot stand long enough for a body scan. TSOs are NOT FOLLOWING POLICY and since you have stated that what you post on here may not be reality because it is JUST POLICY, then this blog is largely irrelevant, more so because you now refuse to (or perhaps are forbidden to) address the real, hard questions.

It is sad that it is TSO West who is giving the most constructive answers here when you should have access to the information we not only want by legally deserve to have. It is not consent when your choices are 1) go through the Backscatter x-ray machine (of which everyone seems to be poorly informed about... I found no rat-tests using them), 2) receive a rubbing "pat down," or 3) be threatened with an $11,000 fine and not fly (which results in a loss of money). THIS is why a portion of the flying public is resorting to anti-AIT underwear. This is the issue that should be dealt with, not the underwear and flying pasties.

Submitted by Anonymous on

so even if we, as private, free American citizens try to protect our privacy and have a little bit of modesty in our nation's public airports, the TSA still has the right to humiliate us at will, all in the name of so called safety? Here's a tip for catching terrorists: Bomb, chemical, and lie detecting dogs are cheaper and more efficient, and use profiling! I know that people don't like it, but it's damn effective.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wasn't the point of the Xray backscatter machines to see dangerous items in the underwear anyways?

So, why, when you see the underwear are you now opposed to it?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hundreds of Millions of American citizens flying since 911.

70% failure rate of the TSA finding test weapons.

ZERO AMERICANS ATTEMPTING TO BOMB OR HIJACK AIRLINES.

THE ODDS OF AN AMERICAN ATTEMPTING TO HURT YOU ON YOUR FLIGHT. ZERO!!!!


The odds that the TSA / Homeland Security is doing this for reasons other than to really keep Americans safe? 100%
THAT IS WHAT EVERY GOVERNMENT DOES AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE BILL OF RIGHTS WAS WRITTEN TO DEFEND US AGAINST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is about MONEY for Chertoff and his criminal cronies. Money for Napolitano and Pistole after they leave office and become LOBBYISTS.

And also about the government's desire to grab more and more power and control over the public.

Submitted by Anonymous on

And, still, the basic questions that should be trivial for the keepers of this blog to answer, go unanswered:

1. Is a TSO required to identify him/herself when asked?

2. How can the public determine the disciplinary action taken when TSOs violate the law/policy?

These two items, and dozens more, will be investigated by the 112th Congress. Please write your Representative and Representative Mica to demand that the conduct of the TSA be brought in line with the law.

Submitted by RB on

Well if TSA would release the Strip Search Machine images proving they are just chalky outlines or fuzzy images as stated in TSA's legal filings in the case brought by EPIC then we would know that we nothing to be concerned about.

So show us the proof TSA, publish the actual Strip Search Machine images in exactly the same sizes and resolutions that TSA employees view when conducting Electronic Strip Searches.

TSA can put this discussion to rest in one easy posting.

Submitted by RB on

And then bad people with intent to kill us used aircrafts as missles and killed 3000 of our brother and sister Americans and things changed. It's sad to see that there are people out there who have forgotten that day and act like it's still September 10, 2001 today...

January 7, 2011 7:58 PM

..............


A person dies about every 13 minutes in auto accidents, a number that easily outpaces the number of people who have died from terrorist acts in the US every year. If you need help with the math thats about 35,000 dead people each year from traffic related fatalities.

Perhaps we should spend the money wasted on TSA to improve our roadways, improve traffic safety and reduce those deaths that happen every day, every week, every month and every year.

TSA has done nothing to improve public safety for all the billions of dollars poured down that agencies sewer.

Submitted by Anonymous on

If you were really concerned about security, you wouldn't have restaurants with steak knives in the secure area, nor would you allow shops to have things like cork screws.

This is absurd.

Submitted by Anonymous on

In all the time TSA has been around, they haven't caught a single terrorist. Instead, they harass law abiding citizens and strip us of our rights. Air travel is a necessity for many people, but now those people must choose between high res naked images that are of questionable safety, or being thoroughly groped. How many trauma victims have you people re-traumatized?

Submitted by Kimm on

"...Anonymous said...
This is an outright lie. I have personally had my belongings removed from my line of sight while being made to use the AIT and/or being subjected to a pat-down..."

Agreed. When I was hassled due to my brace, I was unable to see any of my things, and they were left on the belt for anyone to grab. My money, phone, plane tickets, id were all in my bags that were left, unattended, all because of my brace.

So I was hassled for my leg AND my property was put at risk and out of my sight.

Submitted by Concerned Observer on

Anonymous said...

This is friendly advice the way an enhanced pat-down is a friendly touch.

January 7, 2011 11:17 PM

-----

I second this statement.

In any case, I am more than a little curious as to whether or not I might be subjected to a pat-down if I am menstruating and I am wearing a pad or a tampon. The scanner will definitely detect an anomaly if I am wearing a pad, from the images I have been able to locate online, even the supposedly less intrusive ones.
The more crisp images have the potential to display the string from a tampon if I don't make an effort to hide it. If I might get a pat-down for this, what would be the point? The only thing that could confirm that the tampon is not a threat is if a cavity search is done.
If menstruating women are a problem for the TSA, perhaps there should be TSA issue pads and/or tampons that women can trade for at the gate... and the "potentially dangerous" trade-ins can go in the bin with the 20 or 30 "potentially dangerous" bottles of water beside the box of embroidery scissors and nail clippers with tiny blades.

Another note, because my first comment was deleted (perhaps due to the reference to the new Jan. 1 breastmilk blog post by a mother), this one will be screen capped.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"And then bad people with intent to kill us used aircrafts as missles and killed 3000 of our brother and sister Americans and things changed. It's sad to see that there are people out there who have forgotten that day and act like it's still September 10, 2001 today..."

Yes, 3000 airplane deaths is a tragedy. And since then, over 300,000 people have died in car crashes, 130,000 have been murdered, and about 65000 have died from melanoma skin cancer. You (and most of the country) have lost all perspective of the actual risk of terrorist attacks. With
about 87000 flights per day, there would need to be 870 planes taken down EACH DAY for flying to be less than even 99 percent safe. Hardly worth taking a naked picture of my wife and kids over.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So much for the land of the free and the home of the brave, right?

More like the land of the restrained and the home of the cowardice.

Sometimes the best thing to do when something bad happens is... nothing. Life goes on. But, yeah, 9/11 happened, and look where we are now.

Those terrorists must be laughing at us right now from how we're reacting.

Remember guys, THE TERRORISTS HATE US BECAUSE OF OUR FREEDOMS!!!

lol

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