Friday, January 29, 2010

"As soon as a celebrity walks through a naked machine, some creep will want to save the picture and send it to the tabloids."

Jeffrey Rosen argues that the new airport screening device invades our privacy without actually preventing terrorism.

He describes his chance encounter with one of the machines:

Last summer, I watched a fellow passenger at Washington’s Reagan National Airport as he was selected to go through a newly installed full-body scanner. These machines--there are now 40 of them spread across 19 U.S. airports--permit officials from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to peer through a passenger’s clothing in search of explosives and weapons. On the instructions of a security officer, the passenger stepped into the machine and held his arms out in a position of surrender, as invisible millimeter waves surrounded his body. Although he probably didn’t know it, TSA officials in a separate room were staring at a graphic, anatomically correct image of his naked body. When I asked the TSA screener whether the passenger’s face was blurred, he replied that he couldn’t say. But, as I turned to catch my flight, the official blurted, “Someone ought to do something about those machines--it’s like we don’t have any privacy in this country anymore!”
The real problem is that there's no reason to assume that the violation described in the heading would be done only to celebrities.

UPDATE: It's already happened.