Faced with their inability to detect non-metallic weapons, the US Department of Homeland Security is considering implementing a new technology that allows operators to see through clothing and uncover the weapons that would-be terrorists intend smuggling on board commercial flights. While this seems like a good idea at first, when you consider that this technology, known as backscatter imaging, enables operators to see quite a bit of detail:
Get ready for electronic portals known as backscatters, expected to be tested at a handful of airports this year, that use X-ray imaging technology to allow a screener to scan a body. And yes, the body image is detailed. Let’s not be coy here, ladies and gentlemen:
"Well, you’ll see basically everything," said Bill Scannell, a privacy advocate and technology consultant. "It shows nipples. It shows the clear outline of genitals."
The Homeland Security Department’s justification for the electronic strip searches has a certain logic. In field test after field test, it found that federal airport screeners using metal-detecting magnetometers did a miserable job identifying weapons concealed in carry-on bags or on the bodies of undercover agents.
I’m all for stopping the baddies from blowing me and my friends up but I am not too sure this is the best solution. How long before these images wind up on the Web? As a former FAA investigator put it:
"I have a beautiful 29-year-old daughter and a beautiful wife, and I don’t want some screeners to be looking at them through their clothes, plain and simple,"
Just the same, what are the alternatives?
(via CNET News.com)