The new “strip scan” for passengers
If you ever felt stripped while subjected to a security check at an airport, do not worry more: now you’ll feel literally naked, thanks to a new scanner that, in order to find hidden weapons and explosives, can observe the human body as it came into the world still under several layers of clothing, and is beginning to be used in air terminals throughout the United States.
The device “allows detecting non metallic objects that therefore can not be identified with metal detectors, and even items that are not detected in hand checkings”, said Mark Hatfield, director of the Federal Security Directorate Transportation Safety (TSA) in the Miami Airport, to the newspaper The New Herald.
To use it, the passenger must enter a cubicle and open arms and legs for a few seconds while being bombarded with electromagnetic waves from an energy ten thousand times less than that of a cell phone. The waves rotate around the body, reflecting that energy to create a three dimensional image.
At the same time, a security officer located in a cubicle closed for about seven meters away, spoke with a passenger on radio while watching his silhouette on a screen, with his face in very low resolution, to determine whether it takes some hidden weapon , Hatfield said the Herald.
“The image on the screen that is more humanoid than human, justified the official, adding that “the important thing is to offer a clear vision of dangerous objects. And the person who is subjected to the scan never gets a chance to see the operator.”
The TSA until now uses a system of random selection to choose from passengers who will be subjected to revision, and is optional. Those who refuse must go through a hand checking, and all are examined by metal detectors, whether they accept or not the body scanner. Many, however, are concerned about security and personal privacy.
Hatfield argued that the agent is in a separate cabin and can not see the passenger, whose face is blurred on the screen. The image is also instantly cleared forever; can not be stored, printed or transmitted, explained the official, who also acknowledged that so far no explosives have been detected with this method.
Critics are not quite convinced: “It’s silly to think that using this technology will be limited to airports” said Simon.”The problem is that we throw away the last vestiges of privacy in the country without much thought” .
Each device costs $ 170 thousand and is already being used in 20 other airports around the country: Los Angeles, JFK in New York, Baltimore-Washington, Denver, Albuquerque, Ronald Reagan in Washington, Detroit, Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Washington Dulles and Las Vegas.