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And Now For Something Completely Different

U.S. Government Removes Airport “Pornoscanners,” Proves It Can, If It Wants, Deal With Privacy Better Than Facebook


Those controversial airport X-Ray machines known colloquially as “pornoscanners” are going the way of being able to take bottles of water through security.

According to Bloomberg, the TSA is recalling all backscatter X-ray machines after their manufacturer was unable meet Congressional demands to create a version that would show generic images of passengers instead of the more, er, naked-looking images that it currently generates. 76 of the machines were ditched last year, and the remaining 174 still in U.S. airports will soon be pulled as well.

Some of them will be replaced by another type of body scanner that uses radio frequencies to find metallic and nonmetallic items and, presumably, won’t yield images that some have likened to a “physically invasive strip search.”

Personally, I never minded the backscatter machines—going through them I never felt like my privacy was being violated, and whichever line is moving quicker, backscatter or the older machines, I’ll go there, whatever. But I do respect the fact many people felt those machines to be an invasion of their privacy. Frankly, I’m surprised that Congress and the TSA actually followed through and are ditching the scanners in question, which I guess says more about my opinion of government and how it relates to its citizens (I’m cynical, what can I say?) than anything about the scanners themselves.

(via: Ars Technica)

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  • http://zadl.org/ Captain ZADL

    It’s all worthless theater anyway. They block liquids which are not explosive, but you can take bags of flour on without question. Guess what explosives actually look like. If you guessed white powder, you’re right!

  • http://twitter.com/LadiesMaknComix Ladies Making Comics

    The real issue is that those were useless. There are videos all over YouTube on how to sneak dangerous things through those. You basically just have to strap them to your sides so they blend in with your outline, so using radio frequencies to actually find the materials they’re looking for makes way more sense.

  • http://twitter.com/sarasakana Sara Sakana

    So a stranger looking at a slightly blurry full-length nude photo of you didn’t bother you. How nice for you.

    Some people have valid reasons for not wanting strangers to see what they look like without clothes on, including “just not wanting strangers to see what they look like without clothes on.”

  • http://twitter.com/TechnoMistress Lisa Liscoumb

    Wow, snarky much? She said they don’t bother her but she could respect people who don’t feel the same way. She wasn’t dismissing their concerns.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500664404 Heather Lewis

    You forgot to mention, oh I don’t know, how they were never properly tested and might be giving everyone cancer?

  • Rebecca Pahle

    I agree, “just not wanting strangers to see what they look like without clothes on” IS a valid concern. Just not one that I share in this particular instance. Not saying you shouldn’t, but I don’t. What’s wrong with that?

  • Rebecca Pahle

    It was the privacy issue that got them recalled, though, not safety issues or anything to do with their effectiveness. Not saying that’s not important, but it’s not why they were pulled.

  • http://dinhe.net/~aredridel Aria Stewart

    Backscatter X-ray is gone, but millimeter wave is here to stay. Not much change from a privacy perspective.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=48611001 Neal Johnson

    You had the right to refuse the bodyscanner and submit to a physical search. I always made a point to opt-out of that scan. If they’re going to search me, I’d rather have the human connection than being funneled through a machine like cattle. I was certain that someone, somewhere was keeping metrics of that, and I wanted to add to the number as much as possible.

  • http://twitter.com/LanceBravestar1 Lance Bravestar

    For a second there I thought airports have scanners that detect pornographic material on your luggage. Thank god that’s not true.