Blog of Rights

Body Scanner = Naked Movie Star Pictures; That Didn't Take Long

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:42pm

We're not the type to say "I told you so." Alright maybe we are. In this case we just couldn't help ourselves.

Since December, we've been expressing skepticism about the deployment of whole body imaging at airports. We call them virtual strip searches because we think the graphic images they create of people are incredibly invasive. We've even noted that images of famous people are likely to be particularly prized.

Well the future is now. Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan recently disclosed that he received a whole body scan at the airport. But contrary to the stated policy of the British government, this image was not immediately discarded.

Instead, airline personnel apparently printed it out.

In Khan's own words:

'I was in London recently going through the airport and these new machines have come up, the body scans. You've got to see them. It makes you embarrassed — if you're not well endowed.

'You walk into the machine and everything — the whole outline of your body — comes out.'

[...]'Then I saw these girls — they had these printouts. I looked at them. I thought they were some forms you had to fill. I said 'give them to me' — and you could see everything inside. So I autographed them for them.'

We admire Khan's ability to make the best of a bad situation — recall his experience at Newark last year — but we doubt he is too happy about the government allowing perfect strangers to take and keep naked images of his body. All of this points to the need for laws that ban the copying and other misuse of these images as well as a legal right to recover damages if they are.

Now we just hope that our raising the issue of body cavity searches doesn't prove to be equally accurate.

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