Travelers React: Airport Security Scanning "Under Their Clothes"

Tri-state travelers have mixed feelings about privacy, safety

By Brian Thompson
|  Saturday, Jan 2, 2010  |  Updated 9:14 AM EDT
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Travelers React: Airport Security Scanning "Under Their Clothes"

TSA.gov

Tri-state travelers have mixed feelings about the new body scanning technology.

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The latest imaging technology might have stopped the Christmas Day Bomber, but tri-state travelers wonder, at what cost to privacy?

"I guess it's a necessary evil," said Ian Basu of Longford, Penn.

Basu was at Newark Liberty International Airport New Year's Day, reacting to the latest body imaging technology. Experts say it may have detected the Christmas Day bomber before he ever boarded a plane.

But it is called a "virtual strip search" by the ACLU. And while Manhattan's Tara Pyne said she would be willing to be scanned, it was a different story when talking about her two children, 5-year-old Catherine and 3-year-old James.
 
"Would I object for my children? Yes," said Pyne.

The technology is already in use by the TSA at 19 airports across the country, and word is that it's expected at Newark Liberty later this year. The TSA says it hopes to install as many as 150 of the machines this year at an ever expanding list of airports.

The agency takes pains to note that the images of travelers' faces are blurred, and that the agents actually looking at the screens are at a remote location away from the security checkpoint, so they have no clue who each body belongs to.

"It's not like it's displayed to the airport. There's trained people who are there and this is their job so no, it wouldn't bother me," said Andrew Woolcock, traveling home to Michigan.

"For the security of hundreds of people I think it should be acceptable to be able to view a body like that just to make sure we're all safe," added his traveling companion, Divya Ammanath, who was returning to her home in Ann Arbor.

A Dutch family returning to the Netherlands was more concerned with terrorists finding other ways to kill. And one, Christina Latiers, said she was more concerned that "a pat-down is more invasive."

Still, even for all the travelers who concede the "necessary evil," Pennsylvania's Basu admitted, "It's kind of invasive privacy I guess, but I'm not sure how else they could do it."

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