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Whole Body Imaging Security at Airports Is Controversial

Airport Security: They Get to See You Naked!

Did you think taking off your belt, shoes, and sometimes dignity at airport security was the end of it? Think again. It turns out that due to a newish technology, airport security can basically see images of you naked.

Privacy advocates are attempting to stop the US Department of Homeland Security from using whole-body imaging, a technology that is being used now in 19 airports and which displays a blurry but distinctly naked image of a passenger's body with the face blurred out.

The machines "detect both metallic and nonmetallic threat items to keep passengers safe," according to a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration, and some say the machines speed up the otherwise annoying and time-consuming process of metal detectors or pat-downs. To find out what privacy advocates are up in arms about, and to watch a demo of whole body imaging in a video,

Privacy advocates, from the ACLU to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, say that although the person working the machine never sees the image, and the person looking at the image never sees the passenger (they're in a remote location), there are larger concerns.

Where are the legal disclosures? What if TSA changes their policies down the road? The computer doesn't store the images, but what if that changes later? The machines are being used now in some courthouses in the US, and opponents claim that it's only a matter of time they show up in mundane spaces like malls.

According to one ACLU lawyer, "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."

Has surveillance gotten out of hand? Do you feel safer, or think technologies like whole-body imaging are worth it?

Join The Conversation
Girl101 Girl101 7 years
I am pretty much a nudist at home, with family, even with friends who are comfortable with it or at nude/CO beach, but I make the decision not the Government. I agree with the ACLU lawyer. If the "officer" want to see me nude, lets make it a nude room, ie the "officer" is in in person, in the buff as well and I get to see what they look like, put them on my computer and promise to delete their photo. By the way, I will randomly select which "officer" who will conduct this with me.
hillamaria hillamaria 8 years
Well in that case I hope they like what they see! Got nothing to hide.
oni1 oni1 8 years
i don't care if they see my chonies
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
Last year when I was seeing my boyfriend off at the airport, I had to take off my studded belt. Fair enough. I'd recently lost a lot of weight and hadn't had a chance to but a new pair of pants. Needless to say my pants fell off. I think that is more mortifying than the new screening.
satoriv satoriv 8 years
I forgot to say ... I had to travel 4 times during April and May: How come I ALWAYS get chosen to do this screening? scrub them. I won´t have it !
satoriv satoriv 8 years
I was selected to it and I just decided that I rather be "touched" by a female guard. I wanted to throw up when a guy told me I was selected to be scanned. I knew it, I saw several greasy and just plain awful guys checking women. This guy that told me I was selected made eye contact with me and he knew that i was scared. It should be for your safety but it is used to objectify women, what if I don´t want people to know that I had breast surgery or that I have a nail on my knee? Seriously people are not selected randomly... the woman that came after me had tears in her eyes.
mguy414 mguy414 8 years
I'm thinking that maybe if they use that wand thing, it wouldn't matter, but this was the first encounter I've witnessed firsthand, and I honestly have NO idea. I believe she may have pre-empted the security guy and asked for a woman, just as a natural reaction. He was foreign, and maybe didn't take too kindly to this woman crying hysterically and causing a scene? The security guard next to him, that my Mom and I got, just rolled his eyes like 'this is ridiculous, just let the woman go through!' I think what hurt her the most was that she's been flying for many years, her father was a pilot and her mother was a stewardess, and she called ahead to Memphis and Minneapolis and explained the whole alternate photo ID thing to them and everyone she spoke to said "that should not be a problem" because the information was the same on both, just one had a picture and one didn't and this little man just chose to freak out on her. Then again I would be thanking said little man if my Nana had, in fact, been packin heat.
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
They'll see hundreds and hundreds of these images every single day. Do you really think they have time to stop and perv over them? Unlikely! Yes, it's not very nice that this is what airport security has had to come to but come on... pity the poor people who have to look at all those naked people !!
mguy414 mguy414 8 years
Ugh, I'm flying out Thursday morning and I hope my airport is not part of this! Slightly related- two years ago my mom, Nana and I were flying from Minneapolis back to Memphis, and were going through security. Well my Nana didn't have a picture on her license, but had an alternate photo ID, and it had obviously worked getting us from Memphis to Minneapolis a week before. Anyway, she was explaining this to the security guy, and he pitched an everloving fit, and she had to be patted down. It was really embarassing for her, she was crying. And we weren't even carrying on anything other than our purses, and those passed through security just fine. And of course, the guy who had looked at mine and my mom's licenses just glanced and them and was like "oh okay." I understand that the security guard was doing his job, but it was horrible, seeing my Nana crying and all that, and he started pitching another fit when she requested that a woman frisk her, because that's so crazy and all?
a-million-suns a-million-suns 8 years
I agree with jessy777. Unfortunately, human beings cannot be trusted to use discretion and not be perverts.
jessy777 jessy777 8 years
vinigrette, I had similar experiences. I also have noticed that there is a disportionate number of women subjected to "extra screening" than men in my travels. I think something like this might increase this discrimination because people, even government agents, are just plain pervy sometimes.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
It doesn't make any sense to do this. If someone is going to smuggle things onto a plane, THEY WILL FIND A WAY TO SMUGGLE THEM ON THE PLANE. Regardless of what you do. I can think of at least 2 ways to get around this. All this is going to do is make airport security longer and more tedious for no reason. Stupid. On a related yet not-serious note...let them look at my naked behind all they want! I'll make sure to give 'em a good show ;)
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
This makes them look incompetent. They have to see you naked in order to know you aren't carrying anything that might cause harm? Jeez! I'm sick of all these scare tactics. I swear when the jackasses rule the world...
Chouette4u Chouette4u 8 years
Go to the CNN article Tres linked to and scroll to the second picture for the frontal view of a guy. You can clearly see penis and balls even though the picture is tiny. Also, if you watch the video, the guy says that you can currently opt out of it since it's experimental and get the standard pat down instead. So if this happens to you, remember that you have a choice! (For the time being anyway...)
Jmartens Jmartens 8 years
thats not even close to really seeing you.
weffie weffie 8 years
I wanna be an airport security guard now! :@) LOL
mondaymoos mondaymoos 8 years
I don't know... there's just nothing remotely pervish or sexual about it. The picture is completely random and digitized. It could be a blank slate for a new animation film. *shrug* I don't think it would bother me.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
i agree. we travel because it convenient. but really? when was the last time someone tried to blow something up? they put billions of people through this just to catch MAYBE one? i don't think that is justified.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
LOL Chouette! That's honestly how I feel sometimes going through security. They've already taken practically all of the dignity of air travel, and now this? Really?
Chouette4u Chouette4u 8 years
Let's just make everyone fly naked and only allow them to use clear plastic carry on bags. Better safe than modest, right?
telane telane 8 years
Hmmm. I don't know, if people would abide by their rules and protocol as described (two different people working the machine and viewing the images, no saved images, etc.) then I could see that it would be a non-offensive thing.... but we all know that is rarely what is really going on. There are sickos everywhere. Also - just think - someone would have a celeb go through and find a way to save the images to sell to those trashy magazines.
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