18 November 2010

Fun and games with airport X-ray scanners

How long did the powers that be think it was going to take for pervy airport security personnel to start putting their fancy new full-body X-ray scanners to creative use?

A man who resisted a full-body scan and groin check at San Diego airport has focused the attention on the issue of privacy and  airport X-ray scanners.

Before you make up your mind, check out just how naked you would appear on an airport scanner.

  • Employees at Miami International Airport taunted and made fun of one of their colleagues for months after they saw his diminutive penis while being trained on the use of the full-body scanner. Poor Rolando Negrin finally snapped and beat up one of his tormentors with a steel baton in an employee parking lot.
  • A 25-year old man who allegedly took a photo of a Heathrow co-worker as she accidentally stepped into a full-body scanner and promptly proceeded to tell her that he loved “those gigantic tits” received a harassment warning from the police.
  • Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan claims that staff at Heathrow printed out and circulated his naked scanner image. His response when he discovered that a bunch of female airport employees were ogling pictures of himself in his birthday suite? He autographed them for his admiring fans, of course!

  • Several civil liberties and human rights organizations have charged that the scanners amount to an electronic strip search that violates a person’s right to privacy as well as being discriminatory, unfair and probably illegal.
  • Some Islamic scholars have advised travelers not to pass through the scanners since they violate religious rules regarding nudity. After all, what good is a burka if any arbitrary airport security operator can see what’s underneath it?
  • In the UK, there have been allegations that the scanners contravene child protection and child pornography laws.
  • There are worries that naked images of travelers, especially celebrities, will end up on the internet - like that’s not already happening with astonishing frequency!
  • Some critics of the technology argue that the scanners will not stop a determined terrorist from smuggling bomb-making equipment or other dangerous objects onto airplanes. That sentiment seems to be borne out by this video clip from a German television show which is worth watching even if you don’t understand the language (it comes with English subtitles). While the scanner detects the man’s Swiss Army knife, cell phone and microphone, it misses all the bomb components he has secreted away on his body.



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