We’re not big fans of full body scanners ~ those funny machines that reveal your naked body to security personnel, could give you cancer, and don’t seem to do what they’re supposed to do. They’re not such a big problem here in the UK, although still unpleasant if you get singled out to go through one. Plus, once they’re in operation, there’s always the chance of some new ‘crisis’ propelling an increase in their usage.
Enter the next generation, what the Huffington Post is describing as the ‘airport security checkpoint of the future’.
We’re not complete curmudgeons, so we must acknowledge that it does have some apparent benefits. It could be quicker, and involve less hassle (no removing shoes, for example). On the other hand, there are some pretty huge downsides that don’t seem to be attracting quite the same level of press as the advantages.
For a start, who decides which passengers receive preferential treatment and which are subjected to “enhanced” security checks? People from some ethnic backgrounds already seem to be at risk of discrimination. Is there a risk that they could suffer more under a system which labels every passenger according to their perceived level of threat?
Besides which, is a system that does that really very secure? Anyone who really does want to perform an act of terrorism will probably focus considerable effort on improving their security status. This system seems either to make a mockery of the idea that terrorism is a real threat, or open the doors to its increase.
In addition, we haven’t heard much about the safety and invasiveness of the new technology. It could be perfectly safe, of course, but we imagine it’ll probably involve x-rays, so we don’t want to bet on it. The body-scanning technology is likely to be controversial, at best.
We’re not condemning it … at least, not yet. On the other hand, neither are we welcoming it with open arms. Advocates have more to do before we’re convinced that the new technology will enhance, rather than undermine, security, privacy, and equality.