Body Imaging Machines

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Does utilizing body imaging machines (like in airports) violate a person's right to privacy?

Does utilizing body imaging machines (like in airports) violate a person's right to privacy?

Airport Whole Body Imaging - Technology and Concept

The whole body imaging technologies use various imaging techniques to scan and create a two dimensional full body image of an individual. The current technologies use the Backscatter or the Millimeter-wave (MMV) technologies, to construct the images. While the millimeter wave technology beams a non-ionizing radio frequency to construct a 3D image, the backscatter technology uses a low-intensity X-ray beam for constructing a 2D graphic image of the passengers. Both the technologies have the advantage of producing high quality image, while addressing some of the privacy concerns. While certain things like the objects carried by the person can be highlighted, the airport scanners can choose to obfuscate images by blurring the facial features or the private parts, by activating the privacy filters. Once the digital image has been recorded and checked, they are deleted forever. The major goals of whole body imaging remains the detection of metallic and non metallic threats, and a means of replacing the physical pat-downs or strip searches. (Pope, H.G., Phillips, K.A., & Olivardia, R. 2007)

The Controversy Surrounding Airport Body Imaging

A choice between being groped and being stripped, I don't think we should pretend those are the only choices. People shouldn't be humiliated by their government in the name of security, nor should they trust that the images will always be kept private."-Chris Calabrese, ACLU lawyer. Debated extensively by the media and the privacy advocates, these airport scanners have raised the issues of privacy violation and humiliation for the passengers. At first glance, these body imaging machines do appear less invasive then the physical pat downs, but these machines allow security personnel to view near naked bodies. Moreover there are no safeguards in place to ensure that the privacy filters are activated or that the images are in fact, deleted permanently.

So you're at the airport, you've gone through the inevitable check-in and security line, when you walk through a machine you think is a metal detector, just like you probably have a number of times before. However, if you're at one of nineteen airports across the country testing new "whole body imaging" scanners, you might be interested in knowing just what the security official on the other side of the screen is seeing if you go through one of the machines, according to CNN. (Pope, H.G., Phillips, K.A., & Olivardia, R. 2007)

Indeed, if you believe privacy advocates, what they are seeing on their screen might be something just shy of a peep show. Right now just six airports (San Francisco, Miami, Albuquerque, New Mexico Tulsa, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas) are using the new whole body imaging scanners as a primary security check option, while the remainder use them as a secondary check after people fail a metal detector. In the past, the secondary option would have been a ...
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