In the days since the attempted terrorist attack aboard a U.S. bound airliner, Americans have been engaged in a full-blown debate regarding privacy, security and the limits of government’s right to search individuals who have not been suspected or charged with criminal activity.
The debates center around the full-body scanning technology numerous foreign and domestic agencies have said will be installed at airports around the world. Privacy rights groups have been critical of anatomically revealing scanners used on all travelers as a primary screening method.
"Obviously, we have a concern, because it’s a virtual strip search that is terribly invasive," said Michael German, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, quoted by CNN.
The news sources also reports that the Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security seeking details under the Freedom of Information Act about the department’s use of the advanced imaging technology.
In response, the Transport Security Administration (TSA) has said passengers’ faces are blurred on full-body scans, employees who deal directly with passengers do not see the scans and those who review the scans do not see the passengers.
That said, public acceptance of body scanners may be on the rise. "Nearly 90 percent of passengers choose the body scan over getting patted down by security guards," according to an expert quoted by The Plain Dealer.
Still, some critics say that while the new technology is effective in detecting threats from unsophisticated, mentally troubled individuals, more refined plots may still be beyond its capabilities.