Concerns About the New Airport Body Scanners

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The UK’s largest and busiest airport, Heathrow, recently received its first set of body scanners that passengers may be subjected to when passing the security check point.

There has been a lot of hu ha about this in the media and privacy advocates suggesting this is just another way the system is invading our privacy?

Even a prominent Bollywood superstar recently had to go through this (as he explained on a BBC1 talk show in early February 2010). He described as a contraption in a closed room adjacent to the normal security detectors and they even have a ‘print’ function where the images taken can be taken as a hard copy. The Bollywood superstar seemed to have been embarrassed when he realised two females had taken copies for themselves, which he then autographed!

On a serious note though, selection for these body scanners is currently random (in so far as it can be) which means the vast majority will not be subjected to this new machine. If you do go through it, rest assured it does not live upto the hype. It scans through your clothing but the image produced is not one of you naked, as if you had been photographed without your clothes on – it more resembles something of an x-ray though granted the image is not exactly of your bone structure.

So from a privacy standpoint, it doesn’t seem worth worrying about (unless some airport muppet leaves his laptop in the back of a taxi containing electronic copies of these photographs – we’d like to laugh at this but we know in the back of our minds, it wouldn’t surprise us much if it did happen) so what about the increased security?

Well clearly any further checks are going to make things secure. By that token, adding an extra on guard security officer would result in increased security, but the real question is it effective for what the authorities claim it will do? I’m not so sure.

Firstly, not everyone will walk through this. Time and cost stops this happening. Therefore its left to subjective (though there probably are some guidelines) selection. The people going through it are still going to be the minority on the flight. Secondly, it scans through clothing to locate anything suspicious – many security experts agree that some of the most recent attempts to hijack an aircraft used materials that would not be picked up by these scanners – and if they were picked up, they would most probably pass through anyway as they wouldn’t be considered dangerous.

In any case, these are coming and are already in place in Heathrow Airport. It will reach Gatwick, Luton and Stansted soon, as well as other local airports in and around not just the UK, but Europe and beyond too.

If you do find anything in a Heathrow taxi any time soon, resembling pornographic x-ray shots of seemingly random people, do remember that they are probably not of strange porn stars but probably of a couple on their way to a sunny, summer holiday!


Source by Anand Pajpani

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