"Who Gives A Flying You-Know-What If They See My Boob": Privacy After The Christmas Bomber

In the wake of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's Christmas bombing attempt, most airline passengers seem receptive to full-body scans if the technology would keep them safe — but would it?

The AP's Marcus Wohlsen reports that passengers around the country are largely comfortable with scanners that see through clothes, as opposed to the metal detectors currently used in most airports. The full body scanners blur out people's faces and genitals, and anyone required to go through one can ask for a pat-down instead. But at the Salt Lake City Airport, only 1% of passengers have chosen the pat-down since the scanners were installed in March. Of the technology, 23-year-old graduate student Ronak Ray said, "I think it's necessary. Our lives are far more important than how we're being searched." Gregory Hyde, who was traveling out of Salt Lake City with his wife after visiting family, concurred, saying, "We're very modest people but we'd be willing to go through that for security." And 62-year-old Judy Yaeger said,

If it's going to protect a whole airplane of people, who gives a flying you-know-what if they see my boob whatever. That's the way I feel, honest to God.


Some, however, are more concerned. Republican U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock is cosponsoring a bill that would keep scanners from being used for primary screening. He says, "There's no practical distinction between a full body scan and being pulled into a side room and being ordered to strip your clothing." Of course, while TSA personnel are able to "see your boob" with the full body scanners, there's still a difference between a blurred-out image on a screen and an actual naked body in a room — and many flyers may find the former less embarrassing. However, some wonder what will become of the images themselves. TSA spokesperson Suzanne Trevino says the pictures can't be stored, and that TSA employees aren't allowed to take any recording devices into the rooms in which they're viewed. Still, passenger Courtney Best-Trujillo says, "Are they going to be recorded or do they just scan them and that's the end of them? How are these TSA people going to be using them? That's a real concern for me."

But perhaps the most important question is whether the scanners will actually do any good. The UK — whose Transportation Secretary incidentally is named Lord Adonis — is discussing whether to introduce full-body scans, but the Dutch press is reporting that Al Qaeda may have acquired some scanners themselves for use in developing "undetectable" bombs. And perhaps even more disturbingly, the Amsterdam Airport has 15 full body scanners already, but would-be Christmas bomber Abdulmutallab didn't have to go through any of them before boarding his flight to Detroit. The scanners might be another tool to help keep airline passengers safe — but no security measure works unless you actually use it.

Scanners Force Trade-off Between Privacy, Security [AP, via Breitbart]
Detroit Terror Attack: Delay Over Airport X-ray Scanners 'Risking Lives' [Telegraph]

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