You go to the airport already a little tense about flying. Then comes the humiliation of a full-body scan – which essentially shows airport security personnel from the Transportation Security Administration or TSA most of the details of your body under your clothing. They are looking for any explosives or plastics so most people are willing to undergo the humiliation for the greater good.
TSA has insisted that there is no way to store or send these images and that the personnel will be secured out of sight of everyday passengers, so your dignity is maintained.
Now there is news from the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a public interest group focused on privacy that TSA can store and send your images. The group has obtained documents that TSA specified in 2008 that full-body scanners at airports must have the capability to store and send images. That opens up the possibility for abuse by TSA employees, EPIC’s director says. EPIC says the ability to store and send exists when the machines are in the test mode.
The TSA should suspend further deployment of the machines until the privacy questions are resolves, says EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg, reports CNN. EPIC is pursuing a lawsuit to obtain additional documents about the machines.
40 machines are currently being used at 19 airports domestically and an additional 300 machines should be used in airports by 2011.
To assure the public, the government needs to be honest. Travelers need to give their consent to be scanned only when they have full information. Consumers also need to understand that there is some radiation that is delivered by body scanners.
That translates to about 1.6 additional cases of cancer per 100 million people.
It turns out in a government report that three to five percent of the population may be more sensitive to ionizing radiation. That includes, pregnant women, infants and children and individuals with genetically-based hypersensitivity to ionizing radiation.
With all of the news about mammograms and CT scans, which the public was given blanket assurances about for years, the public has a right-to-know the truth. That is the only way to deal with an increasingly skeptical public about the downside of travel and the need for increased security.
Source report: http://epic.org/privacy/airtravel/backscatter/