The Transportation Security Administration is using whole body imaging machines in 19 airports around the country as first-line screening of passengers. The machines use millimeter wave scanning to essentially create images that strip the clothing from passengers. The TSA says it’s less invasive than being patted down, and that the technique is safe from a health standpoint.
However, various groups have banded together under the name Privacy Coalition to fight the use of these machines, claiming that such screenings go beyond what is necessary for airline safety, and in fact represent egregious violation of privacy rights.
I have to agree. I’ve never minded submitting to a pat-down when asked; I’d rather people feel secure that I’m not at all a threat. Aside from the fact that I’m leery about the long-term effects of millimeter wave use (how many times has the public been told that something is safe, when years later it’s proven otherwise?), I don’t relish the idea of my naked body being displayed on a terminal somewhere. The TSA says that none of the scanning machines are set up for video, but I can virtually guarantee you that sooner or later, you’ll see some of this stuff on YouTube. Even if it’s one guy with a video camera, that’s all it takes.
Also, you can’t convince me that these workstations aren’t set up for image capture; if a passenger were found with anything suspicious under their clothes, you can bet the TSA would need to supply proof. I’m sorry these machines cost so much to make and install, because sooner or later, they’re all going away.