According to reports, the TSA is removing backscatter full-body scanners, which use very small amounts of ionizing radiation, from major airports and replacing them with less-controversial millimeter wave scanners. But those X-ray scanners aren’t going to the Museum of Bad Ideas; they’re being shipped off for use at smaller airports. [More]
Since the TSA began rolling out its full-body scanners a few years ago, much has been made about possible safety and invasion of privacy concerns, but one blogger claims the devices are completely ineffective because all you need to do to sneak something past security is to place it along the side of your body.
The full-body scanners being rolled out at security checkpoints in U.S. airports are either of the millimeter-wave type, which uses radio frequency waves, or the backscatter X-ray type, which uses ionizing radiation — and which has effectively been banned from use in European airports.
In a new study that will surely be argued and dissected by both sides of the full-body scanner debate, researchers claim that the risk from the ionizing radiation to which travelers are exposed in these scanners “would be extremely small, even among frequent flyers” and that there “is no significant threat of radiation from the scans.”
The TSA’s rollout of full-body backscatter scanners at airports hasn’t pleased too many people (other than the manufacturers of said scanners). Now a handful of newly uncovered documents show that the Dept. of Homeland Security has been considering bringing that invasive technology out of the airport and out to the public realm.
Lists of which airports have installed the controversial backscatter screening devices are one thing, but they’re not actually super-useful. An airport might have the screener on site, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually “backscatting” with it. It could be gathering dust or just for hanging coats on.
Did you assume that once you got to the airport, if the TSA was doing something you didn’t like, you could just opt-out and decide not to fly? The answer is — nope. According to CNN and the TSA, a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals compels all passengers to be screened, whether they fly or not. Refusing screening will result in being denied access to secure airport areas and may result in civil penalties.