Scanners

[I originally wrote this almost a week ago, but Wolfblogs has been quite fritzy and I haven't been able to post till yesterday.  I may be King of Wolfblogs, but it is a sadly dysfunctional kingdom]

I recently got involved in a 30+ comment debate/discussion on airport scanners on facebook.  Figured that means I should write something about it here.  The debate started when a friend/colleague suggested the ACLU was out of line for being opposed to the millimeter wave scanning technology for airports.   I'm a fan of the ACLU, especially the work they do against abuse of executive authority, but they need to know when to say when.  Anybody who thinks being subjected to one of these scans is an invasion of their privacy needs to get over themselves.  Most importantly, this process is anonymous (unless, of course, you are carrying contraband) because your face is blurred out and the person looking at the scanned image never actually sees the real human.  Heck, I wouldn't mind if they had a full-body, neck-down naked image of me under these circumstances.  Is the system perfect?  Surely not, but from what I've read and heard it strikes me as substantially better and less invasive than anything else we've got out there.  I'd love to leave my shoes and jacket on and walk through a scanner instead.  I especially like Kevin Drum's take (complete with cool image):

I'll defer to the experts on how and where these devices are best
used, but privacy concerns strike me as daft. Yes, the machines show
the shape of your body under your clothes. Big deal. That strikes me as
way less intrusive than pat-downs, wands, bomb-sniffing dogs, hand
inspections, and no-fly lists. If we put up with that stuff, why on
earth would we suddenly draw the line at a full body scanner?

 


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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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