Full Body Scans – An Offer You Can’t Refuse?

The TSA's new full-body scanners use either low power X-ray or millimeter-wave technology, but some travelers report invasive searches bordering on harassment when they exercise their right to decline a scan.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun introducing full-body scanners. The scanners employ low-power X-ray backscattering or millimeter wave technology to generate an image of your body, enabling them to detect most concealed objects. Some people are concerned that the scans amount to a virtual disrobing, even though the systems are not supposed to be able to store images and the operator is in a remote location unable to connect you to the images under review.

If you are asked to go through a scanner, you are supposed to have the option to decline the scan in favor of a more conventional “manual” pat down and screening. The travel blog Elliot reports some travelers’ claims that TSA put them on the receiving end of invasive searches that border on harassment. A first hand description of “TSA screening insanity” is available here. Additional information on the scanners and privacy concerns appeared in the Washington Post. The TSA has a description of full body scanning on their official site.

UPDATE: Cory Doctrow reports a skirmish between TSA screeners broke out when one screener assaulted another  after the other accused him of being poorly endowed based on review of a full-body scan. On the plus side, however, Cory reports no problem from TSA in declining the scan in favor of manual screening.

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