I thought I would do a quick post to get your take on this issue. Manchester Airport are currently trialling a new security scanner that produces full body scans of a person and which is designed to quickly highlight any concealed weapons or explosives. That’s all well and good, however:
…the full body scans will also show up breast enlargements, body piercings and a clear black-and-white outline of passengers’ genitals.
The airport has stressed that the images are not pornographic and will be destroyed straight away.
Ok so the pictures will not be saved and they don’t class them as pornographic and yet strangely that doesn’t make me any more inclined to let strangers look at pictures of my junk. Sarah Barrett, head of customer experience at the airport, goes on to stress these points.
Ms Barrett said: “This scanner completely takes away the hassle of needing to undress.”
Ms Barrett said the black-and-white image would only be seen by one officer in a remote location before it was deleted.
“The images are not erotic or pornographic and they cannot be stored or captured in any way,” she said.
Now we are all internet users here and so we all know that anything, no matter how bizarre or out there, can be considered “erotic or pornographic” by someone. Let me give you a hypothetical example but one that I don’t think is beyond the realm of possibility. A female team for some sport of another is passing through security at Manchester Airport. Somewhere in a “remote location” security officer Billy Bob is watching a parade of shapely female forms, complete with “body piercings and a clear black-and-white outline of passengers’ genitals“, pass one by one across the screen in front of him. Are they seriously trying to tell us that Billy Bob is not going to really enjoy his job that day?
As for the claim that the pictures could not be saved in anyway I have to wonder about that too. Let’s say this scanner shows someone has a weapon strapped to his chest. As the security personnel move in he manages to discard it from his person. The weapon is found but the suspect denies that it is his. Now the only evidence you have that he had the weapon on him is the picture take by the scanner. Again I find it hard to believe that the ability to save an image is completely absent in this system even if it is not something that is done routinely. If these things do become common place how long do you think it will be before an image of some starlet of the week passing through security appears on the internet?
Ok so I know I have taken things a bit far there but this whole thing strikes me as wrong. Also it is true that currently people can refuse to be scanned but that of course does assume that they know in advance the sort of image the scanner is going to produce. We live in a world where the threat of a terrorist attack is very real and yet I can’t help thinking this is a step too far. Are we not entitled to some level of privacy, at least to the point where we are not required to let strangers see our naked bodies before we are allowed to get on a plane?
Sorry that was a bit off topic but I would be interested to know how you guys feel about this.