Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Remember when they said we don't have to worry about airport body scanners?

You know, remember just yesterday, when a committee of British lawmakers said "The privacy fears raised by the deployment of full body scanners at airports are overblown." They also said " the technology was no more of a threat to passengers' rights than pat-downs or bag searches." (Don't you love how a pat-down is no worse than someone seeing every single part of your body? And really, it's definitely not worse than someone looking through your bag.)

Ah, yesterday. The good ol' days. The day before an an airport security guard at London Heathrow told a woman coworker, who walked through a scanner, that he "loved those gigantic tits." Apparently a "first instance harassment warning has been issued" to the man.

Now sure, she wasn't a passenger getting ready to go on a flight, so I have no doubt we people who just want to fly somewhere still have "nothing to worry about." Because we don't have to work with people who think it's OK to comment on a woman's body as she goes through a scanner. We just have to trust them not to say things like that to us -- all along wondering what they're thinking that they aren't saying to us, and, ya know, maybe wondering if they're busy looking at people's bodies instead of looking for things like explosives.

People have raised all kinds of concerns about body scanners and privacy, and rightfully so. From implants to prosthetic body parts to transgender issues to disability issues to women whose religious beliefs require they cover their bodies (which would be seen in a body scanner), there are many privacy problems with the scanners. Stupidly, I had never considered one of the problems would be sexual harassment of a coworker.

And now I'm left with this: if a terrorist has explosives inside a breast implant, which is inside their breast, as has been reported, then what? According to the story, a "typical" body scanner wouldn't catch that. I think it might be time to admit that we can never make air travel 100 percent safe, no matter what we do. We can make it safer, yes. But pretty soon we're going to have to figure out how much privacy we're willing to give up, and when the "safer" has plateaued to "as safe as it can be."

Has anyone been through a body scanner? What was your experience?

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