Full Body Scanner: An Anti-Terror Measure Or Privacy Violation?
In the wake of Flight 253 terror attempt, air travel authorities around the world are considering installing full body scanners in major international airports. The Nigerian terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab who tried to blow up Airbus A330 on Christmas Day passed through airport security in both Nigeria and Netherlands, proving metal detectors and hand checkups might not be enough. Mutallab was wearing custom-made underpants to hide the explosives, making it impossible to detect with regular devices desposible to airport security. Some security experts say a full body scan would have detected the explosives strapped to Muttalab's body, however.
The opponents of full body scanners say the privacy of passengers could be infringed. They also say scanners allow for voyeurism and public humiliation because the scanner images reveal all body parts to security personnel. The "nude" scanners have already been tested in a few airports around the world, including Manchester Airport in the U.K., where the scanners were on trial since October. Some airports in the United States, such as O'Hare and Logan, will employ full body scanners in early 2010. In all, the TSA plans to install 150 full body scanners in airports around the country.
The proponents of the full body scans say the scanners can be optimized to reveal only the outline of the body rather than make all body parts clearly visible in the image.
What is your take? Would you choose safety over privacy by consenting to being screened with a full body scan?