The Naked Truth

As we gear up for another holiday season, the Transportation Security Administration has added a new wrinkle: naked travel.

USA Today has just reported that the TSA has purchased “150 security machines at airport checkpoints that enable screeners to see under passengers' clothes”. These virtual strip searches allow TSA screeners to see detailed images of passengers' bodies. These machines have been around for a while, but it appears they have gone mainstream. This purchase will “vastly expand the use of the controversial body scanners.”

But it’s not just the program’s expansion that is raising eyebrows. TSA has always maintained that these machines are for secondary screening only, and that no one will have to undergo a virtual strip search. But now the machines will be used in place of metal detectors. Many people will likely go through them without ever knowing that there is a person in the room next door checking out their assets.

Beyond the horrible invasion of privacy, this retreat from the truth calls into question TSA’s other protections for the program. Specifically, officers who view the image are never supposed to see the live passenger, and the passenger’s face is blurred. Further, officers aren’t allowed to bring cameras into the room where these images are viewed, and the computer system is not supposed to be able to retain images. But this is nowhere in law or regulation. It’s simply TSA policy, subject to change at any time.

TSA has resisted commonsense regulation — already passed in the House — that would largely codify what was supposed to be their existing policy and assure that these machines are only used for secondary screening. The Senate should quickly follow the House’s lead. If you’d like to take action on this issue, please click here.

Any security mechanism can be defeated. Security is always a balance between effectiveness and invasiveness. In this case, the TSA has gone too far. Can American travelers please put their clothes back on?

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skander

So the TSA will be producing its own child pornography.

Callum

I'm all for it. Notice how it's only girls who think too highly of themselves who get worried about it. I know for sure that if they screen me then it's just brag rights.

roald

This is certainly the opportunity for those who ask, "Why should you care if you have nothing to hide." to prove they have nothing to hide.

Steve

Being opposed to this would be like objecting to a prostate or breast exam. I do NOT like a doctor touching me in certain spots, but if my life is saved because of it, I have no problem with it. If these airport screenings mean that a potential weapon ir explosive is kept off a plane, I support it.

CRose

As a sexual assault survivor, I am horrified by this! These virtual strip searches, which forcibly reveals people's bodies, are certain to be extremely triggering for survivors.

Elsewhere

Is there radiation emitted or a health risk to see through those clothes? I think I'll just skip the U.S. as a travel destination, or at least TSA, in the meantime.

Rickey Krause

the most evil thing our senate has proposed taking our medicare premiums and giving free insurance to others and paying wages to 200,000 new Fed health care managers. Please take this to supreme court and stop this theft of our hard earned mandatory medicare deductions. In 8 years the life time premium givers will enter a gutted health care promise. We need to help people who fell through the cracks not increase Fed job count. I believe Van Jones green jobs have racial recognition software to reject all others who apply I have been rejected as not even having the minimum skills required. If resume tests were read by humans I might not have got the job but they could not insult me. I might be right if all dems bill pass 600,000 new jobs will be forever a tax burden. Slanted job selection is what ACLU is about and if I am right racism has reared its ugly head in a re distrubution of race. Ric

BHSandman

If it was intended to be a secondary measure then it should be kept that way. Much like a more intimate search, if they deem it necessary to use it on someone they should ensure that it is operated by a qualified operator of the same sex as the one being searched and absolutely no recording should be made. Overall, I don't feel that this technology is necessary. There is no constitutional need to search every passenger to the skin and the ones that do require a different search can be examined in a private room following established and confirmed guidelines.

BHSandman

I feel that this technology is too much for the TSA to handle right now. If there is some constitutional need for it in the future then they could possibly use it. We have no present need for such a device. It is far to intrusive. The current system of scanning for devices or other objects made of metal is enough to catch almost every dangerous item out there. That combined with TSA regulations that limit the number of ounces of liquid that we are allowed to carry should suffice. If there is some other need for a search then we can resort to other current methods of searches. A person could be pulled into a private room to do a more detailed search. These machines are like taking the "Terry Stop" to a new and dangerous level where no reasonable suspicion is needed to "frisk" someone.

Jake Orlando

What is the deal?

These machines won't show naked people on their screens, but potentially harmful objects and liquids using heat censors.

I don't feel bad for anyone going through these machines to keep our skies safe.

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