Security or violation?

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With the holidays approaching and travelling on the agendas of many, flying might resemble going to the doctor more than most people would like. Airport security has always been somewhat of a daunting task and not always pleasant, but at what point is it downright invasive?

We used to walk through metal detectors, have security officials wave a wand over us, or perhaps at best empty the contents of our pockets and take off our shoes. Now with the use of full-body scanners and the risk of subjection to radiation a concern for passengers, airports have added a fairly in-depth pat-down to the procedure. If you opt not to walk through the scanner, you are asked instead to be searched by an official. There have been several grievances stating that the pat-downs were more invasive than necessary. People have complained that their private areas were touched and they felt more fondled than searched. Maybe the scanner isn’t so bad after all.

Technology is always improving and becoming more integrated into our daily lives, and scanners are no exception. With full-body scanners basically seeing through clothes like Superman, what happens to the images afterward? In most cases they are immediately deleted, but if you were an unlucky visitor to an Orlando courthouse you might find your image on the Gizmodo website as part of its “One Hundred Naked Citizens” video. As Gizmodo noted in its post, “Fortunately for those who walked through the scanner in Florida last year, this mismanaged machine used the less embarrassing imaging technique.” Set to music, the blurry X-ray images are far from revealing and no faces are shown, but it raises the question: “What about the machine images created by the more embarrassing techniques?”

I think X-ray vision is better left to Superman – at least he didn’t post online.

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