menu – Whole-body imaging: airport security vs. privacy concerns

Earlier this month the House passed H.R. 2200, hoping to improve the Transportation Security Administration. The result shows the hazards of rushing to fix one problem through an amendment and unknowingly creating a monster of another problem that could end up with the force of law.

The proponents of this amendment were trying to protect passengers’ privacy when going through screening, specifically the new whole-body imaging scanners, or WBIs. The House voted to ban WBIs for primary screening, on the theory that those wishing to preserve their modesty could avoid embarrassment by not alarming the metal detectors. Maybe, but so could a terrorist.

The reason TSA is buying WBIs is to reduce the most critical remaining security vulnerability in aviation — non-metallic bomb parts at the checkpoint. Old-fashioned metal detectors are inadequate because they only alarm on concealed metal. They should be replaced with current, effective technology.