The Dutch government says it will immediately begin using full body scanners on flights to the United States to prevent future terrorist attacks like the Christmas Day attempt by a young Nigerian. http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20091230/NEWS01/312300004/1001/NEWS
So what’s been the hold up in America? There is no head of the TSA, they are more worried about the Union than security, and the ACLU and other civil liberties groups are having a hissy fit. For one of the first times I can ever recall, I am all for more government regulating who gets to fly and am willing to give up some privacy to ensure the safety of air travel. OMG, is it the year end holiday brain mush that just wrote more government??
From 2004. “The Bush administration has decided to scale back and delay the debut of a vast airline passenger screening program until after the presidential election, federal officials said yesterday. The decision comes after months of meetings with airline officials and lawmakers who pressed the administration to drop more controversial elements of the program, known as Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening Program, or CAPPS II. ” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A53320-2004Jul15.html
For 6 years this technology has been out there, ready for use and could have prevented the uni-bomber and the underwear bomber from trying to blow up airplanes!
On October 1, 2009 – “The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has revealed plans to install 150 body scanning machines for primary security screenings at airports across the country. The American Civil Liberties Union strongly opposes the expanded use of this invasive technology, which amounts to a virtual strip search and reveals strikingly graphic images of passengers’ bodies, including intimate medical details like colostomy bags or evidence of mastectomy. …. By expanding the use of body scanning technology, the TSA is backing away from numerous assertions that it would use these machines only for secondary screenings. There are no laws or regulations limiting how the TSA uses these virtual strip searches, only policies they choose to adopt, and nothing to prevent the TSA from making it mandatory for all passengers to submit to these invasive and embarrassing searches, having their privacy stripped away in order to board a plane.
The following can be attributed to Christopher Calabrese, ACLU Legislative Counsel for technology and privacy.
“This new body scanning technology is a frontal assault on personal privacy, with virtual strip searches revealing private body parts and intimate medical details. This degree of examination amounts to a significant – and for some people humiliating – attack on the essential dignity of passengers that citizens in a free nation should not have to tolerate. Passengers expect privacy underneath their clothing and should not be required to display highly personal details of their bodies in order to fly.
Having a scan seems more friendly than a body cavity search. If you find it humiliating to have a body scan simply don’t get on a plane. Drive or stay home, one more seat for someone else on these over booked flights. Take all the pictures you want of me when I fly. So what if I got a glass eye, a pacemaker, a big penis with piercings, man boobs, a fat ass, a bag to pee in or all of the preceding on my body, whatever. Get over yourself, you are a human and only God is perfect. All of us have some kind of weird thing about ourselves, none of us should have the capacity to blow up a plane over the non use of technology that can stop this from happening. Mandatory or selective, this is one case where I could care less- so long as it prevents the plane my family is getting on from falling from the sky.
The Associated Press says that “At least 19 U.S. airports have the scanners,” at http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/1963465,ohare-airport-full-body-scanners-security-122909.article noting that Chicago’s O’Hare will be getting them mid-year.
I would prefer not to have my fat, x-ray-ed ass posted on the Internet though. Some sort of deterrent for illicitly copying and distributing the photos should probably be in order, with penalties severe enough to serve as a deterrent. I wonder who stores the scan at the end of the day, is it now a permanent record, would an agency need a search warrant to use it in a court of law, etc., still some questions linger.
I do see how the Pre-screening programs could be opportunities to find criminals. Um, if that is a by product of better technology- so what? Behind thousands on your child payments? A bad guy out on parole an not reporting? Wanted on a felony? Too frickin’ bad, don’t get anywhere near an airport unless you are a law abiding citizen. Flying is a privilege not a right. We’re not talking about an overdue library card or a bunch of parking tickets. Look, finding criminals is not the intention behind scanning some one’s behind for problematic devices, but if it gets them away from being another potential public threat- then so be it.
Take the extra billions in stimulus and stimulate the economy by making it safer.
Smile, someone takes your picture every time you walk into Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s, etc. Got a Sam’s Club Card- your picture is on that. Our local grocery store, in order to cash a payroll check, now requires not only a photograph but a fingerprint of two fingers, on two hands. Every parent/grandparent/guardian/teacher and janitor at our local school is required to undergo a background check and be fingerprinted before walking in the door.
If the private sector can match up your face to what you buy, to how often you visit, then the government ought to take every preventable measure to stop terrorism in it’s tracks NOW, or hire the programmers at Wal-Mart to do it for them.
UPDATED August 5, 2010. Now we know who stores the scan at the end of the day, the TSA! The U.S. Marshals Service too.
The TSA apparently requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for “testing, training, and evaluation purposes.” (PDF)
A 70-page document (PDF) showing the TSA’s procurement specifications, classified as “sensitive security information,” says that in some modes the scanner must “allow exporting of image data in real time” and provide a mechanism for “high-speed transfer of image data” over the network.
The TSA maintains that body scanning is perfectly constitutional: “The program is designed to respect individual sensibilities regarding privacy, modesty and personal autonomy to the maximum extent possible, while still performing its crucial function of protecting all members of the public from potentially catastrophic events.”
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