Security at airports is at an all-time high following the failed Christmas Day airline bombing and body scanners are leading the charge to beef up airport security. With plans to buy 1,000 scanners over the next two years, the TSA hopes to prevent future Christmas Day bombing incidents and sees these scanners as the best course to prevent such incidents.
While the reasoning that scanners will detect explosives and save lives seems straightforward, the ACLU says there are more shades of gray to that picture.
Immediately following the attempted Christmas Day bombing, the ACLU released multiple press releases saying the spread of body scanners is not the appropriate response; that the technology is an invasion of privacy; and the effectiveness of this technology isn’t strong enough to warrant such an invasion.
Gary Daniels, the associate director of the Ohio ACLU, echoes those sentiments.
“There are less invasive was to keep people safe,” Daniels said. “This is a virtual strip test. People don’t realize the level of invasiveness [of the body scanners].”
Daniels continued saying, “There is no right to fly. But the question is should we be making as difficult as possible to fly. That seems to the TSA’s and government’s default setting right now.”
However, a recent March 31 Unisys Security Index survey reported that 93 percent of Americans are willing to sacrifice some level of privacy and 65 percent of Americans said they are willing to cooperate with airport body scans.
Mark Cohn, the vice president of Enterprise Security at Unisys Cooperation, said that these results were not a shock to them.
“This is not surprising,” Cohn said. “People are pretty concerned with safety. There must be a balance between risk and reward. People realize they have to give up some privacy for security.”
Cohn also stressed the fact that there seems to be a level of trust among consumers and the TSA and thus there is a higher acceptance rate of security protocols such as the body scanner.
But Cohn said that the body scanner is just one piece to the puzzle.
“It is not the answer to all threats,” Cohn said. “[The body scanner] complements the other layers of technology. There can’t be a fixed protocol with airport security. A mix of technologies creates the greatest, most effective defense.”