TriCom Technical Services

Has Technology Gone Too Far?

In Airline Security, IT news, Privacy, TSA on November 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Paired with TSA, some would argue it definitely has.

Airport body scannerBy now you’ve likely heard the nightmarish stories regarding the new TSA procedures. If you are “randomly selected” to be searched, you are asked to step into a backscatter unit – a large body scanning portal which displays a front and back image of your naked body in a style much like a photo negative. The photo to the right is modest – in some scans the entire male sexual organ can be viewed.

This scanning machine was originally meant to add another level of protection to airport security, but is quickly turning into a huge headache for the passengers, and I can only assume, the security officers.

But there may be an underlying problem to these backscatter units, aside from the already present privacy breach.

CNN reports, “While the TSA says the machines are safe, backscatter technology raises concerns among some because it uses small doses of ionizing radiation. …

The risk of harmful radiation exposure from backscatter scans is very small, according to David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University and a professor of radiation biophysics.

But he said he is concerned about how widely the scanners will be used.

‘If you think of the entire population of, shall we say a billion people per year going through these scanners, it’s very likely that some number of those will develop cancer from the radiation from these scanners,’ Brenner said.

Skin cancer would likely be the primary concern, he said. Each time the same person receives a backscatter scan, the small risk associated with the low dose of radiation is multiplied by the number of exposures.”

If you’re concerned about the scan, you can always opt out for the new-and-improved pat down in which a TSA employee will aggressively check your body with an open palm. This new procedure includes swiping the hand across and around the groin area on men and the breast area on women. Some passengers feel this new process walks a fine line between security and sexual assault.

And get this, if you choose not to participate in either scan, not only will you not be allowed to board the plane, you will also be fined up to $10,000.

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