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More Airport Body Scans

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By Emily Long March 8, 2010

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The Homeland Security Department on Friday announced that it will expand the use of advanced imaging technology -- the controversial body scans -- to 11 U.S. airports, thanks to $1 billion in Recovery Act funds.

The units go beyond the capability of metal detectors to pick up explosives, weapons and nonmetallic threats hidden underneath clothing. Though the Transportation Security Administration promises passenger privacy through blurred imaging and remote viewing, privacy advocates have raised concerns that the scans reveal anatomical features and are stored, not deleted as TSA claims. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest research group, published documents in January revealing that the machines can record, store and transmit passenger scans.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has called the technology a "virtual strip search," questioned the efficacy and privacy implications of the scanners' expanded use.

"The Bill of Rights extends beyond curbside check-in and if the government insists on using these invasive search techniques, it is imperative that there be vigorous oversight and regulation to protect our privacy," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office in a statement. "Before these body scanners become the status quo at America's airports, we need to ensure new security technologies are genuinely effective, rather than merely creating a false sense of security."

Of the 11 airports chosen, only Los Angeles International already has similar technology in place.

  • Boston Logan International
  • Charlotte Douglas International
  • Chicago O'Hare International
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International
  • Kansas City International
  • Los Angeles International
  • Mineta San José International
  • Oakland International
  • Port Columbus International
  • San Diego International

The first screeners were installed Friday at Boston Logan International. Chicago O'Hare International will receive units this week, and the remaining locations will be up and running this summer. TSA already has 40 units in 19 airports nationwide and expects to have an additional 450 deployed by the end of 2010.

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