back to article Group slams airport naked body scanners

An electronic privacy group has urged a federal appeals court to limit the use of full body scanners at US airports, arguing the machines are an unprecedented intrusion into the affairs of millions of Americans. In a 55-page brief filed on Monday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center accused the Department of Homeland …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I endorse this product and/or service.

    That is all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      right then...

      you tell my boss that I won't fly any more because of the security theatre....

      I regret that too much airline business comes from corporate travel needs for any wallet voting to make a major difference.

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Vote with your pocketbook - don't fly

    If this is so offensive, then do what I've done and not step foot on a commercial jet airliner since 9/11. I refuse to put up with the retarded, useless, and insulting security theatre.

    If everybody did that, the airlines would be scrambling to put a stop to this shit, to stay in business.

    Obviously, nobody really cares enough.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Not "nobody", just not enough

      I haven't been on a plane in years, well before "Teh Terrists" dog and pony show started.

      Why? Even back then, I found that trains were much easier, usually cheaper, and for shorter trips (like within a three state radius), usually even FASTER than air travel! (And this is AMTARAK we're talking abut here!)

      Seriously, go 500 miles from point A to point B by train, direct route. Same by plane? Two to three connecting flights, always routed through Atlanta, Chicago, or both! (both of which were always MUCH further away than where I was going, What's up with that?)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Ahh, silly me!

        I should have been taking the train from NY to London, Mumbai, Helsinki, Budapest, Taipei, and Tokyo.

        And I should be spending three days on the train from here to LA for a ten hour meeting.

        Believe it or not, other people lead different lives than you do. Save your breath on the sanctimonious preaching.

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        This Title is alarmed (well, maybe slightly startled)

        Great idea. Take the train. I'll remember that next time I do the London to Stockholm trip.

        The train now standing at platform 3 appears to be full of water and drowned commuters.

    2. Tempest

      Don't fly? Difficult

      The transportation infrastructure is very poor in the U.S.

      The Interstate Highway networrk is breaking up, thousands of bridges require replacement and the rail system is as bad.

      Assuming a one hour journey at either end of a flight, plus a 2 hour pre-boarding wait rail and road have at least a 3.5 hour advantage.

      The trouble is the U.S. travel system is air based. They have few high speed trains and even fewer decent long-haul buses although the Chinatown ones on the east coast, with WiFi, are great.

      This is why America appears to be advanced, when in actuality there are many hidden problems. At least the airlines are doing their best to encourage alternate travel - thy stopped flying to over 200 airports!

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Okay, then

      Next time I go to visit certain family members who now live in Greece, instead of getting on a four hour flight, I'll spend ten times as much money on a series of trains, with a journey time measured in days, not hours? I don't think so. Maybe I should just walk, swim, walk a bit more, climb over the Alps, walk a bit further, and finally swim some more to get there?

      The sad fact is, that in the UK at least, the public transport infrastructure is so poor and overpriced, that to make a trip from Bristol to Newcastle, for example, costs significantly less on a plane, and takes considerably less time, even when you take into account all of the nonsense security theatre and queueing required at each end. Given that the US is a much larger country, I would imagine that this situation is magnified further when travelling there.

      Also, I don't think it is the airlines who are imposing these restrictions. In the US, at least, it is the TSA. Most airline operators won't really give much of a crap whether you have 150ml of toothpaste in your hand luggage, as long as they can still fleece you for the in-flight extras.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    So... request not to be scanned then

    Went through such a scanner at SFO just yesterday. There were big signs before it suggesting that if you didn't fancy it, you didn't have to use it.

    1. multipharious


      Two separate friends that I have heard of that have refused to get scanned have gotten their carry-on taken apart and frisked aggressively without a kiss. My heavy travel friends did it as a lark, and the TSA obviously have been instructed to dissuade anyone watching by example. Excuse me? The Founding Fathers would freak.

      Total bullshit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The Founding Fathers would freak"

        The Founding Fathers would use this wonderful technology to ensure their slaves weren't getting uppity.

    2. Anonymous Bastard
      Thumb Down

      What are the alternatives?

      Even more invasive cavity search or refused entry to the 'plane with no ticket refund since you gave up your seat voluntarily?

    3. Owen Milton

      the alternative...

      The alternative is apparently to be given a deep pat down... meaning they're going to be grabbing repeatedly at buttocks and your underwear regions in detail. Some people find it objectionable that the choices come down to

      A) Don't fly in the first place.

      B) Have naked full body snaps end up on the Internet.

      C) Get groped in a manner that would call for a sexual assault charge if you didn't agree to it.

      D) Refuse B and C at the last moment and get hauled off for interrogation as a terrorist suspect.

  4. Someone Else Silver badge

    Security Theater

    Gives a whole new meaning to the term....

  5. Nathan 13
    Thumb Up

    Its the same naked body..

    your doctor will see if you have a health issue, or your friends will see if you get too drunk and play strip poker :)

    I don't see the problem with the scanners. I would rather that that being blown to smithereens at 35000 ft

    1. Lennart Sorensen

      So what?

      Too bad it doesn't prevent you getting blown to smithereens at 35000 ft. And most of us don't play strip poker and don't get stupid drunk and act like an idiot.

      It is highly unfortunate that most people believe the security theater actually makes things safer, when in fact it doesn't. It just costs lots of money and wastes lots of time and pisses off lots of people.

      If they were really worried about people being killed by random evil people, they should worry more about drunk drivers. I suspect they kill a lot more innocent victims than terrorists. It just doesn't make the news because they do it a few at a time, rather than hundreds at a time.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      . I would rather that that being blown to smithereens at 35000 ft...

      Yeah, like if it is going to happen.

      From day to night the americans became the maximum experts on terrorism and started to demand other countries to become part of the show.

      Point is that if someone is motivated anough to cause damage, this someone can do it even if you let him board the plane naked.

      Do you have a notebook?

      The battery is a treat (it can explode), the cables are weapons (they could be used to strangle the crew or make the battery explode), CDs and DVD are weapons as well (they can be made sharp enough to cut the crew), still they are allowed.

      But for god sake, do not try to bring a nail clipper on-board or the security will shoot you in the head.

    3. Raumkraut

      Doctors and nurses

      "The same naked body your doctor will see..."

      That would be all well and good if it were solely trained medical professionals watching the nudie-scope, as they generally have some sense of ethics and professionalism.

      What we have instead are barely trained chimpanzees who failed the cop exam.

    4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I'll remember that when I'm confronted with one of these scanners

      and ask them to scan my straw man instead of me.

  6. the_leander

    @ Nathan 13

    False Dichotomy much?

    The one and only measure that has been introduced that would have stopped a 9/11 hijacking was the introduction of locks on the cockpit door.

    I'll say that again, of the hundreds of millions of dollars blown on security theatre like these damn machines, the only thing that has any real-life proof of being able to stop a plane being hiyjacked is a $100 door lock.

    There are explosives sniffers, and metal detectors, between the two would catch anything that this thing could, as well the latter picking up anything*inside* the body. Neither of which come with the civil liberties implications this does.

    Honestly I'd phone up the Israelis and have them take over security in western airports. There is a damn good reason why they have never had problems like this - they actually went to the trouble of investing in effective security.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      They'd just as quickly be sent home.

      "Honestly I'd phone up the Israelis and have them take over security in western airports. There is a damn good reason why they have never had problems like this - they actually went to the trouble of investing in effective security."

      Problem is, most of their practices (such as extensive profiling) would run afoul of protections enshrined in the US Constitution. And our population is so diverse that some of their techniques would fall flat (for example, though not airplane-related, would racial profiling have picked up someone like Timothy McVeigh, a natural-born American who still wanted to commit mass murder)?

    2. Matt_V


      It does seem that the Isrelis tak etheir airport security pretty seriously.... whether the TSA would be up to this I don't know (I have been on an airplane presisly once from Liverpool to Dublin :) (well twice I came back again!)

  7. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton


    [[I don't see the problem with the scanners. I would rather that that being blown to smithereens at 35000 ft]]

    Wait until they get to addressing the problem that these scanners can't see inside body cavities.

  8. Cunningly Linguistic

    So how do they find...

    ...a passenger with a Semtex suppository in place then?

    1. Rippy

      Re: So how do they find...

      > ...a passenger with a Semtex suppository in place then?

      By looking for the detonator.


      1. CheesyTheClown

        Good point, but ineffective.

        The detonation mechanism would certainly be in the explosives or the guy would have to remove it from his... well to reinsert it.

        Additionally, a detonator is insanely easy to hermetically seal within a lead device such as something shaped like a pen or a battery. It would be impossible to detect using scanners.

        On the other hand, semtex, even in the form of a suppository would not need an x-ray to detect. If it would should up on an x-ray device, it certainly would show up on piles of other scanning equipment.

        Body scanners are far more useful for other materials anyway. And besides, if you really want to get explosives on a plane, you will. I can easily think of 20 ways which would bypass body scanners and chemical scanners and allow me to get everything but radio active material in and not even get scratched.... I however would never make it past someone visually profiling me based on that.

      2. Cunningly Linguistic

        Title for internal use only/

        If a perp can 'bottom swallow' the Semtex buttplug I'm sure they could interface their colon with a detonator to complete the pairing.

        I'm sure if it's possible to have a wifi detonator, but if not I'm sure they could explain the southbound cable as a hamster lead Richard Gere-style.

    2. Nigel Brown


      Wait until you hear the sound of the latex glove snapping into place on a large, hairy hand......

    3. JaitcH

      Next US Homeland initiative: hiring off-duty and retired cops and prison guards

      then they will implement their extreme search options: searching all body orifices with gloved digits.

      There is an alternative for rectal searches - stand and squat three times then bend over for visual check. One commercial US prison claims this is guaranteed to expel all secreted items.

      Homeland Security knows no limits!

  9. Mark C 2

    @Gene Cash

    So, Einstein, what happens if, like me, you have to travel to do your job....and not travelling means you breach the terms of your contract and might have to look for another job?

    ...thought so.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    MAnchester, England they are OBLIGATORY. Don't want to pass through, you don't fly. Incredible that no one here has challenged this outrage yet. Welcome to the Police State, even if you are completely innocent they can examine your t!ts.

  11. Remy Redert

    re: So... request not to be scanned then

    Yes, then instead you'll be subjected to a full body search instead, more humiliating even.

    Instead, how about we dump the majority of the current security theatre? None of these new technologies are any significant improvement on good old MAD gates and X-raying all luggage but far more intrusive.

    Old technologies and their own stupidity will stop the stupid and unprepared, no technology will stop those determined and intelligent enough.

  12. LondonJay

    But we need them to fight the terrorists.....right?

    It's high time organisations out there started to take the government to task over its disproportionate and growing security theater. Security measures which were, ostensibly, brought in to aid in fighting a fictitious (mostly) middle eastern enemy who just happened to be financed and trained by the Western countries we're told they're trying to destroy.

    Please, what a load of crap. It's nothing more than a game in which the military/security complex gets to generate huge profits and those in the inner circle get to play out their roles. Exit truth, enter stage left the media.

    What's disappointing is the vast majority of the general public who seem to think these body scanners are somehow justifiable, even with evidence to show just how ineffective and dangerous they actually are.

  13. OrsonX


    I find being blown to bits more intrusive.

    grenade.... the one hidden in my pants

    1. Wayne

      How many bombs would this find ?

      How many of the people blown to bits on airplanes in the last 5 years would this device have found ? Hint - it's virtually none.

  14. Rippy

    It's not nudity ...

    any more than the NASA's beautiful false-colour pictures of galaxies are photographs.

    And you do not loose any virtue or reputation from having the drooling 'tards look at it.

    And yes, it doesn't do anything useful for security, but for heaven's sake let go. The scanners are a way for the "we're all going to die" establishment to back off without loosing face; if we object strongly, they'll have to find something more obnoxious.


  15. Wimpie

    RF Engineer

    You have the UNCONDITIONAL RIGHT to OPT-OUT and especially to OPT-OUT your kids!

    These machines totally invade your privacy, maybe give you cancer, and allows the thugs in TSA and other passengers to steal your stuff. Remember, you must remove your wallet, belt, all cash, paper, your boarding pass, passport, EVERYTHING before entering the strip search machine. Anybody can take your stuff.

    Google "DONT SCAN US" for important safety and privacy information as well as actual images, not the propaganda that TSA is spewing.

  16. Winkypop Silver badge

    Seat C4

    Don't forget, that the beloved security theater is also 'security theater of the mind".

    It makes politicians and numpty voters FEEL safe.


  17. heyrick Silver badge

    <nelson> Ha! Ha! </nelson>

    It's amusing keeping up with these stories. *ONE* foreign attack on home soil (okay, it was epic, but...) and the world goes to pieces. Guys, we survived the IRA in the '80s and we didn't carry on like this. Some countries put up with a lot worse (dare I mention Lebanon?). Look at what became of the place formerly known as Yugoslavia. Ex-Soviet splits were not exactly friendly, look at Georgia now. Shall I list the places the US is embroiled in the midst of? All of this going on, and the world is asked to pander to increasingly deranged self-righteous paranoia because of one large successful well-targetted attack. Kinda makes y'all look like a bunch a'wusses!

    PS: I'm doing my bit for the environment, that subject is 100% recycled! :-)

  18. EvilGav 1

    Missing points . . .

    Anyone who stopped flying after/because of 9/11 - congratulations, the terrorists won. They made you change your life because of their actions, the aim of the terrorist.

    As for bombs on planes, the majority try to get them in cargo (such as the Pan Am bomb over Lockerbie and the recent printer cartridge). This threat could be removed by using cargo containers in the hold - these were designed and available over 25 years ago and solve the biggest problem, namely how do we stop a bomb that has got on board downing the plane.

    But airlines wont use them, as they reduce the amount of spare weight capacity for cargo on every flight.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Missing points . . .

      The way to beat terror is not to be terrified. That's all it takes, on a day-to-day basis. Just don't pay off to it.

      1. Vic

        Re: Missing points . . .

        > The way to beat terror is not to be terrified

        I'm not terrified of the terrorists.

        I'm shitting myself over the actions of various governments in the name of my safety...


      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Well Said

        Miss Bee. Have one of these on me.

  19. Ancient Oracle funkie

    Don't know enough ...

    ... about these scanners to make an informed decision.

    Perhaps the proponents of these security devices would volunteer to post the scans of themselves and their family members (no pun intended) on the net so we could all see whether we approve or not

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are the decision makers so dumb?

    Anyone who thinks that scanners are going to ensure that you dont get blown to bits is a complete idiot. (To the point that if they have kids, they should be investigated to ensure they and being cared for properly)

    Have to seen the news lately. Those who want to blow you up now just post a [instert item]!

    Then, they can blow the whole plane to bits remotely.

    So next time your walking through the scanner, being perved at, just remember, your NOT safe. The whole process is NOT keeping you safe.

    (Bye civil liberties! Bye common sense! You were chased away but the "knee jerkers" and feeble, and the rest just didnt care about you)

  21. Wimpie

    Nation of Wimps

    Janet Napolitano, John Pistole and many of our legislators can’t understand why frequent fliers are concerned about the cancer risk from the x-ray scanners?

    Maybe somebody needs to tell them that intentional radiation exposure to large population groups will create a public health hazard. Especially when the dose has been miscalculated and we don’t yet know how much, but it’s higher than advertised. SOME people will die as a result. There IS NO QUESTION.

    Maybe somebody needs to tell them they don’t want their ourselves, our kids/wives/girlfriends exposed naked to some stranger or group of strangers in the back room, and maybe stored or transmitted (we aren’t allowed to know)

    Maybe somebody needs to tell them that a growing number of people fear the TSA more than they fear terrorists.

    Maybe someone should tell them that airport strip searches and massive pat-downs are a form of terrorism?

    This is over-the-top hysteria to a infinitesimally small threat, that they are highly UNLIKELY to prevent.

    Americans are being deceived by THEIR government.

    What happened to America? How did it become a nation of Wimps?

  22. Cunningly Linguistic

    It tickles me...

    ...that the US Government and its peoples decided to wage "War On Terrorism" when it had already been lost on 9/11.

    Every action that has been taken since demonstrates that they've lost (including turning the USA into a fascist state overnight, and inconveniencing every traveller in and out of the US).

    One can _never_ win a war against terrorists, regardless of how much money, weapons or soldiers you throw at it.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    glad to see we're more open now


  24. Anteaus

    Need to stop playng into terrorists' hands.

    Q: What is the purpose of terrorism?

    A: -To destroy buildings or kill people? No. Not primarily, although that may be part of the method employed. The purpose is to disrupt services, and cause... terror so as to weaken the resolve of the people.

    It may be relevant to consider that in the latter part of WW2, care was taken to ensure that the Nazis were presented with 'intelligence' indicating that the V-weapons weren't actually doing much to dissuade the London public from going-about their business. It's not how much damage is being done that counts, but whether your enemy sees his own actions as being effective, or not, that determines whether he continues.

    We seem to have forgotten this point. In spades.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But what if "terrorist" is a misnomer?

      We may only call them "terrorists" because they employ terrorist tactics.

      But what if the fact is that they're really anarchists? Or worse, true belligerents who seek nothing less than the destruction of western civilization (and failing that, all civilization that exists)? They simply employ terrorist tactics as the cheapest solution in an asymmetric war, just as IEDs and EFPs are common weapons abroad because of the bang-for-the-buck factor. I posit that if they knew a means to cripple America and the West in a non-terrorist fashion, they'd do it.

  25. Charles 9 Silver badge

    One way to end security theater?

    What if one can prove there is a means to slip effective plane-killing devices past any viable security measure known to man? That to detect the device would involve techniques KNOWN to be medically unsafe and impossible to render any safer. Then you can tell the government, "Now, there's nothing you can do. Can we dispense with the unpleasantries now?"

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