A passenger gets scanned in a body scanner.

A passenger gets scanned in a body scanner.

Ah body scanners. One of my favorite topics to write about (or hate on). If you have missed out on previous posts let me re-cap why I don’t like them:

* They violate our privacy. Not just people seeing your almost-naked bodies, but those that might have a disability and really don’t want some TSA agent to see it.
* They can be avoided. All you have to do is say, “no,” and you can get a pat-down. Not even trying, I avoided the body scanner and a pat-down.
* I hate the, “what about the children,” argument, but do you want your child’s scans looked at by some stranger?
* They already have been, and I assure you will continue to be, abused.
* There is now talk that these scanners give you more radiation than once thought.
* They cost a lot and do nothing more than provide a false sense of security for passengers.

Now Senators Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced a bill to require all commercial airports to have and use body scanners by 2013. The bill is called the Securing Aircraft From Explosives Responsibly: Advanced Imaging Recognition Act. If that is too long for you, there is a fun acronym: S.A.F.E.R. A.I.R. Act. I wonder how much time they spent on the acronym versus seeing how this bill would really make passengers safer.

The Senators feel the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been spending too much time testing out the body scanners and need to get them installed ASAP nationwide. Currently the scanners are installed in only 48 airports across the US.

The bill requires that body images “cannot be stored, transferred, copied or printed,” and it forbids security personnel from having cameras near the machinery. Of course we all know that every TSA agent has followed all the rules already associated with the body scanners (that is sarcasm). I understand that most TSA employees take their job very seriously and do not abuse the system, but it only takes a few to make the whole agency look bad.

I have written a lot about these scanners and seem to have people just argue that they are better than nothing or if you don’t like them, don’t fly. I haven’t seen how the system is currently planned to be set up, how it makes us any safer. I would love to be proved wrong on this.

Thank you Chris Salman for point this out!

Source: RawStory.com Image: CRozeman

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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23 Comments
Frank V

These virtual strip search manchines are an abomination, they facilitate kiddie porn, subject victims to dangerous radiation levels (no TSA, not on a single trip, but what about the frequent flyer who endures 50-100 scans a year?).

TSA, as an organiztion needs to have strong non-political leadership. Janet N is a political hack (so glad she is no longer governor of my home state)and only does the bidding of her political leaders. Yes, there are many very good TSA agnets and managers, but there are still too many that view airport security as their personal playground. Barney Fife would fee right at home in TSA, prowling the terminal, gun in hand, looking for someone suspicious.

The senators may feel that the DHS have been spending too much time testing these scanners, but I can assure you I have definitive proof to the contrary. I have been in contact with the TSA now for over four months regarding a specific and highly personal privacy concern of mine with regard to body scanners. To cut a long story short, I am a man who has a silicone prosthetic testicle due to a childhood condition.
The TSA have told me repeatedly that body scanners have not been properly tested, and have categorically NOT been tested for a prosthesis like mine. They have told me however that silicone breast implants ( not external prostheses) will NOT be seen because they lie deeper under the skin.
They further state that I should inform airport security staff of my prosthesis and that it MUST then be seen and touched. Imagine how most men or women would feel if they had to expose their genitals and then have them touched by TSA security personnel. I protested that this is tantamount to sexual assault. They stated I could be examined in private and by someone of the same sex. That does not make me feel much better. They then at first threatened me and now are completely ignoring me. Needless to say I am not particularly happy to be sexually assaulted every time I fly – I will now sadly never fly again.
The TSA state in their 2009 PIA that implants under the skin will not be seen, but they have refused point blank to state whether this is true when I have repeatedly asked them. In any case, since bones are clearly visible, then an ‘anomalous’ testicle, which only lies a few millimtres under the skin will be clearly visible. Rapiscan have also told me personally this is the case, and it is stated on their site: Rapiscan 1000 FAQ’s ( penetration depth is at least 4mm ). The UK, where I live, has also told me definitively that my prosthesis will be visible on body scans and that I must accept further humiliating secondary screening as part of the UK’s rigorous screening process. The UK have no pat-down option – so to put it bluntly, passengers in my or a similar position are quite simply stuffed. I have been told many times that if I do not like it then I do not have to fly. OK, but what happens when the scanners appear in railway stations – they already HAVE them in Italy. I and many other men in my position had better get used to staying in.

This bill will is Dead already!
This is beyond the allowable scope of “administrative searches”
From the bill:
“PRIMARY SCREENING.—The term ‘primary screening’ means the initial examination of any passenger at an airport checkpoint, including using available screening technologies to detect weapons, explosives, narcotics, or other indications of unlawful action, in order to determine whether to clear the passenger to board an aircraft or to further examine the passenger.”

Airline Reporter, this is a fascinating post. I had not read this post before and I just came back to Seattle from a trip to Indiana. I had heard of these things, but had never actually seen one, until this last trip. On our way back from Indianapolis, the IND airport checkpoint TSA agenet said that my daughter would have to go through the scanner. I refused and stated that I would not allow him to pat down my daughter and to please send a female TSA employee. I’m sure he would have done that anyway, but I wanted to voice that concern. The TSA agent simply asked if I would be okay with picking up my daughters very puffy tutu skirt. Because she had leggings on, I allowed it. As a traveler, I feel that this thing is unnecessary. As a parent, I feel that it does give anyone the freedom to simply select who they want to look at for their own pleasure.

Good for you! ALWAYS refuse these cancer-causing, privacy invading machines!

Make sure you tell all your friends, bring it up at the PTA meetings, and give this matter as much press as you can.

For further info join us on Facebook:
All Facebook Against Airport Full Body Scanners
13,800 members +

I fly a minimum of 50 round trips per year, which makes 100 times per year that I would be exposed to body scanner radiation. Not only no, but HELL no. My family is already prone to gene mutation, as we have found. Scientists have cited that these body scanners, which concentrate radiation on the skin (read the article based on UK scientists input here) can cause cancer, especially to the young and to those prone to genetic mutation.

Funny thing is, I got to Chicago once and was asked to go through a fully body scanner. The TSA agent would not allow me to refuse; it was either do the scanner or not travel that day. There was no other option, according to that agent.

I think the word is out to TSO’s that people CAN OPT-OUT.
But you must SPEAK UP and be assertive in some cases, including asking for the supervisor.
We need more massive OPT-OUTS. Get the word out.

I really don’t mind the body scanner. I mean, we all have the same parts don’t we? The machine is only as invasive if you have something to hide. It’s not like people aren’t wearing scampy clothes that show everything anyway — what’s the difference?

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Enforcement of airport full-body scanning constitutes a direct assault against the integrity of the mind and body of the American citizen. As an intended or unintended consequence of Homeland Security, the loss of liberty, demoralization and control of the people should be recognized as the real culprit that should strike terror into the hearts of men. Once our freedoms are lost, they will more than likely not be returned.

This is not the free AMERICA that our forefathers planned out, fought for and died for.

If you are happy with full body scanners – move to North Korea or Cuba or a upscale US prison – where these scanners were originally designed for!

No Bradley, we don’t all have the same parts. You obviously have not read my post above. Also what about transexuals – if a man has started a sex change and has developed breasts but still has his bits below, ‘he’ will be outed and abused. Some people are different and they should nor be ABUSED for it.

“Full Body Scanners” is a euphemism that is used in an attempt to get the public to accept mandatory electronic strip searches. The 4th Amendment is supposed to protect against things like mandatory strip searches.

These devices are strip search machines and should be referred to as such. Using the euphemism “full body scanners” perpetuates the idea that people are being “scanned” when what is really happening is mandatory strip searches.

Yes, the machines record, save, and transmit the images.

Strip search machines have health risks and there are versions being deployed that give full internal X-rays (see also this).

They are already being deployed beyond airports.

Someone needs to look at whether Bob Bennett and Amy Klobuchar are getting political donations from the company or related interests.

I googled and found this because I just went through the most humilating experience in my life.
I just returned home from a trip and I was asked to go through the machine. My home airport currently does not have them, so I didnt have to go through on the way out.
I have a testicular implant due to a bike accident when I was 15. It clearly showed up on the machine and security pulled me from the machine in front of everyone and started asking me what I have in my pants. I asked politely if I could go somewhere private but they were very rude and demanded I remove it and show them right away. By this time, EVERYONE was watching. I asked them for my private pat down and again security demanded I take out what I had hidden in my underwear. So, I finally told them, I don’t have anything, they probably are seeing my fake testical. Out loud, one of the TSA agents said to another guy accross the securtity room, “do you believe this guy? He says what he has down there is a fake tesitical. Pull that screan up again.” I was horrified! I demanded to see a supervisor and to be taken in private. Finally a supervisor came and said they would take me to a private room. Which they did. They made me remove my pants, show them I had nothing in there. They he started to try and grab the testicle. I protested, he cannot touch me and then he stopped.
I am so ashamed that the American Government is treating us like East Germans. What is next, will they start shoving their hands in our ass to check the shit waiting to come out? I am just so incredibly done with ever flying again.

Hey Kevin,

Thanks for sharing your story. That is horrible and no one should have to go through that. I would suggest sharing your story with the TSA, but I doubt it would do a heck of a lot of difference. https://contact.tsa.dhs.gov/talktotsa/talktotsa.aspx

Problem is, sometimes you get lower trained and paid folks that work for the TSA and get on a big power trip. Not everyone is like that of course, but there are enough to give the TSA a very bad name.

David
AirlineReporter.com

You guys are a bunch of whiners, flying is a privilege, not a right, so if you want to fly, you may have to give up some privacy. Anyone who claims these body scanners won’t make air travel safer are delusional. With body scanners the attempted Christmas bombing wouldn’t have happened, concealed plastic explosives wouldn’t be able to be smuggled, and a myriad of other things that the TSA can’t currently detect would be easy to detect. Do you fools think we should have no security whatsoever, because that is certainly what it seems like with all of your comments? And Wimpie, congratulations, you have .0027% of the members of facebook in a group, so good luck getting the TSA to care about that. Bradley seems to be the only person on here that has his head screwed on correctly.

To those that think giving up privacy is an okay thing… First of all, ask yourself this, why can’t a terrorist smuggle explosives or bio hazards in other cavities??? Do you think that once people accept body scanners that full cavity searches aren’t the next standard to be pursued to ensure our safety? For those on this forum that think that being utterly humiliated (like poor Kevin, above) is worth the price of protection, I wonder what you would think if you were the one being humiliated?? Would it be okay with you that for every time you get on a plane some stranger puts their fingers into your private parts? What about your children? This isn’t about safety, this is about rights being trampled on to the point that the lines of personal freedom are blurred. We may not have a “right” to fly on a plane, but we certainly have the right not to be physically violated or searched without PROBABLE cause. We live in the USA, not a fascist state (though that is starting to become debatable).

The Fourth Amendment states: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. In the context of the situation we are discussing this would be the right of people to be secure in their persons. What does the word PROBABLE in the fourth amendment really mean? “A reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime”(1) or maybe “a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person’s belief that certain facts are probably true”(2) Wow, okay so the government has reasonable belief that EVERYONE that comes through the airport doors is a criminal or they are relying on zero facts to violate your person. There is zilch in the way of probable cause. If you’re on the watch list for the FBI, NSA, CIA, etc., that sounds like probable cause to me. There are (hopefully) facts to back up the reasons why people are on those lists.

Personally I think that there are profits to be made by having TSA (for the people seeking a secure job and pension (politically popular, too, of course) and by companies looking to secure government contracts- the bodyscan companies). TSA, btw, has just decided to unionize. It’s fear mongering to the extreme. Fear mongering is the reason for all the expense of wars that are completely wasteful and leave our country in crippling debt (one of many reasons at least). A terrorist has at his disposal a thousand and one ways to kill masses of people, excluding airplanes. We cannot possibly secure and prepare the world for every tragedy that is bound to come being a human being on this planet. Are our rights being coaxed out from beneath us because we are being manipulated by fear? Fear is a type of insanity. Think about it.

The system we have in place to secure our airplanes is PLENTY enough. If we allow fear to continue to guide us, micro-chipping will be next, and personal freedom will slowly start to erode away. I would rather live in a world that maintains personal freedoms than in one dictated by the insanity of fear.

Wikipedia ref sources from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probable_cause#cite_ref-0:
(1)’Lectric Law Library web site. Accessed April 11, 2008.
(2)Handler, J.G., Ballentine’s Law Dictionary: Legal Assistant Edition (1994, Albany:Delmar Publishers), at p. 431.

Chris Litherland

I used to love flying and airports but after seeing these sh*t machines in action and the TSA fondling grandmas and little girls while waiting in line to get a pornographic picture of myself taken I will no longer be flying. Good luck airline industry, you are f***ing yourselves in the a**es.

My son recently completed a project about balancing freedom and security? Is that even possible? I’m telling you right now. If this bill passes, so help me God, I will stage a massive protest AT CURBSIDE CHECK-IN at O’Hare. I really don’t care what those damn TSA officials tell me. I have the right to assemble and associate. The Lord-Almighty Department of Homeland Security can’t do sh*t about it.

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