Despite the fact that full body scanners may be the most technologically advanced equipment we could realistically put in an airport, they still have their shortcomings. Full body scanners can't see inside your body. Generally, the machines also can't find items stashed in a body cavity. This means that a determined terrorist could potentially store bomb materials or weapons inside their body, specifically in their anus. Since such a low dose of electromagnetic energy is beamed inside the people who enter the scanners, the images are only skin deep. So just how drug traffickers smuggle drugs inside their bodies, terrorists could do the same but with far more dangerous materials. As America witnessed with the failed shoe bomber, it does not take a great deal of free space to hide materials that could overthrow or take a plane down. For instance, C4 explosive, which is military grade, can be fit in the anus of a determined individual. Taking this into account, it becomes all too apparent that smuggling a small knife on to a plane would be a relatively simple task. On top of the practical problems associated with the technology, there is a certain social stigma associated with using full body scanners (Smith, n.d.).
With the full body scanners, it ultimately boils down to one human being seeing another human being nude, although somewhat distorted. Many people are self-conscious about their physical appearance which is never an issue with pat downs or metal detectors. However, full body scanners are effective because they don't hide anything at all, but this is also their downfall. The technology itself was made with the best of intentions, but human beings aren't the most pure of creatures so it can easily be misused. For instance, a scanner image of a celebrity could potentially be sold for a great deal of money by a greedy TSA worker. An overweight individual could potentially become the subject of many jokes among co-workers without that individual ever knowing. The verdict as to whether or not these machines are beneficial remains to be seen, so we must conduct further research (Smith, n.d.).
Critics of full body scanning say that the technology isn't a magical machine that will totally resolve aviation security concerns. In spite of the complexity of the piece of technology, if one can gather the information on how it works and what its technological constraints are, then that machine is not going to discourage a sophisticated terrorist operation. The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the American Civil Liberties Union also feel that the scanners infringe on Americans' privacy rights and the Fourth Amendment, which defends against unreasonable searches and seizures. Others are questioning the security of delivering small doses of radiation to millions of people, a procedure some experts say is sure to result in a few added cancer deaths. The radiation amount administered by the scan is so small that the risk to an individual is insignificant. But communally, the radiation doses from the scanners incrementally augment the risk of fatal cancers among the thousands or millions of travelers who will be exposed, some radiation experts believe. Another anti-scanner dispute is that the devices break child protection laws, which forbid the creation of offensive images of children. Privacy campaigners maintain the images fashioned by the scanners are so graphic they amount to virtual strip-searching. "Even Pope Benedict XVI has weighed in on the privacy debate. He has said the threat of global terrorism does not merit impositions into personal privacy, according to the Catholic News Agency" (Full-body scanners: Security hopes and privacy fears, 2012).
No matter which side of the argument that one falls on there is no doubt that there is a real need for increased security in airports everywhere. Unfortunately, these are the times that we now live in. There is a need to make sure that no one gets on an airplane with the capability to do harm to other people. Right now the current technology that is being used to accomplish this is full body scanners. It may be in the future that a different technology surfaces and things change, but for now we must learn to live with what we have.
Research needs to be done into the complaints about the effectiveness of the scanners along with the safety issues that have been brought to the table. If it can be shown that these scanners are not effective at reducing the amount of dangerous things that get onto airplanes or it is proven that the machines are not safe for individuals, then the technology should be reevaluated and a new plan put into place. On the other hand if it is shown that these are nothing more than a slight inconvenience then people have a decision to make. Fly and submit to the body scanners or don't fly. In the end the main goal is to keep flyers safe while in the air and if full body scanners are the only way at the moment that this can be done, then travelers need to learn to adjust as the alternatives are not very inviting at all.
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