Ah the joys of body scanners. Costing a fortune, invading our privacy and making people feel safer about flying. I haven’t been a fan of them since the get-go and now my home town airport has them.
Back in August I reported that Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) would start using body scanners in September. However, they got delayed, but now are ready to start scanning. Two of the machines have been installed at the south check point and should be in full use by the end of this week.
Jim Forman with KING5 was at SEA last week and got a first look at the body scanners. Some of the people he interviewed said, ’œIf it keeps us safer on the flights, it’s worth it.’ Well, what if it doesn’t keep you safer? Is it worth it then?
Aubrey Cohen with the Seattle PI asked about privacy and health concerns. The TSA explained to him that the machines are not able to store images, and the screeners in the room may not have any cameras, cell phones or other recording devices. The TSA also applies a “privacy algorithm” that makes the images less explicit. Even though there might be the rule of no cameras or phones, that doesn’t mean all employees across the country will listen to those rules.
When asked about heath concerns, Jeanette Parker, deputy federal security director at SEA told Cohen,”This technology is safe, it meets national health and safety standards. Backscatter technology was evaluated by independent third parties. Studies have shown a single scan with backscatter imaging technology is equivalent to two minutes of flight at altitude.”
Even though the scanners are only at the south check point, additional scanners will be installed at the north check point soon. It will be closed for two weeks while they reconfigure the check point for the new body scanners. The TSA does not expect there to be any delays since they will open all the stations at the other three check points.
As more and more airports get these scanner I wonder why do we continue to spend millions of dollars to give the impression of flight safety. They do not make us safer, they cost us money and they take away our privacy.
Well, time to go take a look at them first hand. I am on my way to SEA, since I am flying this morning. I will head over to the south terminal to check them out.
Remember, no matter what airport you are at, you have the right to opt out of being scanned.