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TSA: Security Imaging Technology

It’s right around the corner, the busiest travel time of the year.  And with the increased amounts of travelers comes increased security.  Just in time for the holidays the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is introducing the Millimeter Wave scanner and the Backscatter scanner.  The images that these scanners provide are, well… anything but flattering for the holiday traveler (especially if you have packed on a few of those extra holiday pounds)

Body Scanners In Airports

Alright so here is the deal… These two new scanners are a little bit obtrusive.  As in, they don’t leave too much to the imagination.  The question becomes ‘are they too obtrusive?’  Before I go any further here is are example provided by the TSA (I censored them myself)

Airport Scanners
Censored images of the new scanners installed at airports all across the country.

The actual images as well as the blog explaining them is here via: The TSA Blog.  Here is what the TSA has to say about the privacy of the images:

To that end, the officer who assists the passenger never sees the image the technology produces. The officer who views the image is remotely located in a secure resolution room and never sees the passenger.

The two officers communicate via wireless headset. Once the remotely located officer determines threat items are not present, that officer communicates wirelessly to the officer assisting the passenger. The passenger may then continue through the security process.

Advanced imaging technology cannot store, print, transmit or save the image, and the image is automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer. Officers evaluating images are not permitted to take cameras, cell phones or photo-enabled devices into the resolution room.

Here is another reference to the scanners: A video released by the TSA

What do you think about these images and video?  Is this too much?  Would you prefer this or a physical search?

I personally would rather just walk through the scanner and have that be that.  I honestly don’t think it is that big of a problem if it increases security and decreases the likelihood of an incident.  Many people have commented that this is going to far, and cited that this would be inappropriate for children to be scanned, which is understandable.  But according to the TSA, these images aren’t viewed by the security personal that is in contact with the passenger, and the images cannot be stored.

According to a CBS Poll:

4 in 5 Support Full-Body Airport Scanners

Another Approach Perhaps?

Meanwhile in Israel this whole approach is almost laughed at.  The Israelis have lived in the shadow of terrorism since its inception in the 60′s.  They look at airport security in an entirely different light.  First and foremost they want the airports efficiency to be unaffected by security measures.  Here is what was reported on the subject by thestar.com:

“It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago,” said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He’s worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

“Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don’t take s— from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, ‘We’re not going to do this. You’re going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport.”

The Israeli security system is broken down into 6 check points.  These are highlighted as well by thestar.com.  I won’t go into detail about their system, but have a look for yourself and see if it something the United States should consider adopting.

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