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Originally published October 24 2010

Backlash grows against full-body airport scanners

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Worldwide, a backlash is growing against the push to install full-body scanners at airports.

The machines, which take a three-dimensional picture beneath a person's clothing, were first introduced after the alleged "Christmas Day" attempt to bomb a plane headed for Detroit. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has already purchased 500 of the machines at a cost of $80 million. More than 100 have already been installed, and the government plans to put 1,000 in place by the end of 2011. They have also been adopted in the United Kingdom.

But concerns over the effectiveness of the machines, as well as their implications for passenger health and privacy, are on the rise. In October, the U.S. Government Accountability Office warned that the machines are being deployed without sufficient tests of their effectiveness. In March, it restated a concern that it "remains unclear" whether the scanners could have detected the explosives carried by the alleged Christmas Day bomber.

The International Air Transport Association, representing 250 airlines around the world, has also spoken out against the machines, warning that the TSA lacks "a strategy and a vision" for integrating the devices into an overall security plan.

"The TSA is putting the cart before the horse," association spokesperson Steve Lott said.

Then in June, the European Commission issued a report warning that the health risks of the devices are unknown, and that they should not be used on children, pregnant women or people with disabilities.

Because the machines can generate naked pictures of passengers, critics have also raised concerns over passenger privacy and abuse of the images by security workers.

Citing such health and privacy concerns, the government of Dubai recently announced that it will not use the machines.

The final straw for many passengers is that the devices take significantly longer to pass through than a metal detector.

"The system takes three to five times as long as walking through a metal detector," said Phil Bush of Atlanta. "This looks to be yet another disaster waiting to happen."

TSA regulations allow passengers to opt out of screening with the full-body scanners.

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