Airplane Passengers Can Now Choose Between Pat-Down and Body Scanners


In US airports including Washington, Dallas, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Miami and Detroit, body scanners are being installed. Instead of being patted down as is custom, travellers selected randomly can choose to be shut in the glass booths while a 3D image is made of their body beneath their clothes. In Europe, Amsterdam’s Schipol airport is already using the scanners. They allow the security screeners to examine the images in a separate room. According to the Transport Safety Authority of the States, “millimetre waves” that go through cloth will detect and show metal, plastics, ceramics, chemical materials and explosives. As well as the passenger’s full body details: such as evidence of mastectomies, colostomy appliances, penile implants, catheter tubes and the size of their breasts or genitals. “You can actually see the sweat on someone’s back,” said James Schear, the Transport Security Administration security director at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where two body scanners are in use at one checkpoint.The passenger’s privacy is however protected since the image will only show their blurred face. Furthermore, the images are one-time use: they can neither be stored, transmitter nor printed. 

The TSA effort could encourage scanners’ use in rail stations, arenas and office buildings, the American Civil Liberties Union said. “This may well set a precedent that others will follow,” said Barry Steinhardt, head of the technology project.

The passenger can however refuse the use of the machine and submit to an old-fashioned pat-down. Early reactions amongst passenger include blunt refusal, intrigued, reassured and occasionally wary. Thirty machines should be installed across the US by the end of 2008. “Most passengers don’t think it’s any big deal,” Schear said. “They think it’s a piece of security they’re willing to do.”

Obviously, some rights activists are making a big deal out of this, saying that personal privacy is jeopardized. One more thing for them to complain about. Sometimes, you have to choose between safety and prudism-  like when you go to the doctor’s. I just wonder which the Republicans would pick. 



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One Response to “Airplane Passengers Can Now Choose Between Pat-Down and Body Scanners”

  1. Joe Perez :: An Integral Blog » Blog Archive » EQUAL Views for October 6, 2008 Says:

    […] T-Shirt Sniffing Study: UK women on birth control pills desire the wrong men; after taking the pill, women were more attracted to the odors of T-shirts of genetically similar men. … Airlines to passengers: Would you like an X-Ray with that pat-down? […]

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