as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security races to deploy full body
scanners at airports across the U.S., significant concerns have been
raised. The scanners have been shown to be ineffective at
detecting dangerous low density materials like liquids,
powders, or plastic weapons. In addition, some studies have
linked them to potentially
cancer-causing DNA damage. Perhaps most importantly, major
privacy concerns remain unresolved around the scanners, which
those problems, the DHS appears to believe that the perception of
security is too important to wait for further study. It is
a mass deployment, rolling out new scanners in 11 cities
including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
advanced imaging technology (AIT) units were installed at the Boston
Logan International airport on Friday and will be installed at
Chicago O'Hare International in the next week – all installations
will be completed by the summer's end.
forty AIT units are in limited use at 19 U.S. airports. The new
units will mark the first mass deployment of the technology to the
U.S. airports. More units are expected to be deployed later
scanners will come at a relatively high expense to taxpayers. They
are funded by a $1B USD appropriation from the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The spending plan -- crafted by
Obama, and the Department of Homeland Security -- calls for $700
million in new screening for checked baggage and $300 million in
checkpoint explosives-detection technologies.
nine other airports receiving scanners will be: Fort
Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FFL), Cincinnati/Northern
Kentucky International (CVG), Mineta San Jos International (SJC), Los
Angeles International (LAX), Port Columbus International (CMH),
Oakland International (OAK), San Diego International (SAN), Kansas
City International (MCI), and Charlotte Douglas International (CLT).
Of the airports, only LAX previously had full-body scanners.
DHS is defending its pricey plan, arguing that there's no privacy
risk. It says that images of passengers unclothed won't be
stored, despite the recent revelation that the scanners had the built
in capability to do so. They also admit that the scanners are
only efficient at detecting metal objects, but say that could be very
helpful in detecting knives or metal-based guns.
also claim there's no health risk with the non-ionizing radio
frequency energy in the millimeter wave spectrum used by the scanners
to generate their images. They say the system's energy is
100,000 times less than a cell phone transmission. (Recent
studies, however, have suggested that DNA damage may certainly be
better or worse, though, the 450 new scanner units will soon be a
common sight in the 11 airports on the mass deployment's front. The
U.S. appears to be marching in Britain's footsteps, moving towards a
"no scan, no fly" policy.