News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinesecuritybigbrothertech — Viewing Item

Airport screeners may get xray vision

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

Airport Screeners May Get X-Ray Vision


A scanner the government is testing for airport screening reveals much more than meets the eye to be comfortable for most passengers.

Susan Hallowell, director of the Transportation Security Administration's security laboratory, sacrificed a large measure of her own modesty Wednesday to demonstrate the problem.

She stepped into a metal booth that bounced X-rays off her skin to produce a black-and-white image that revealed enough to produce a world-class blush.

Her dark skirt and blazer disappeared on the monitor, where she showed up naked - except for the gun and bomb she had hid under her outfit.

"It does basically make you look fat and naked, but you see all this stuff," Hallowell said.

The agency hopes to modify the machines with an electronic fig leaf - programming that fuzzes out sensitive body parts or distorts the body so it does not appear so, well, graphic.

Another option would be to restrict the screener to a booth so no passing peepers can see the image, said Randal Null, the agency's chief technology officer.

Null hopes to conduct pilot programs with the machines at several airports this year. A test run with volunteers at Orlando International Airport in Florida met with mixed results, he said.

Some were uncomfortable with the technology - called "backscatter" because it scatters X-rays - while others proclaimed it "a whole lot nicer than having someone pat me down," he said.

David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, thinks most people will object to the technology.

"The public is willing to accept a certain amount of scrutiny at the airport, but there are clearly limits to the degree of invasion that is acceptable," Sobel said. "It's hard to understand why something this invasive is necessary."

Magnetometers now in use at airports cannot detect plastic weapons or substances used in explosives.

With backscatter technology, rays deflected off dense materials such as metal or plastic produce a darker image than those deflected off skin. The radiation dosage is about the same as sunshine, Hallowell said.

Backscatter machines have been available for years, priced between $100,000 and $200,000. They have been used to screen prisoners' families and South African diamond miners going home for the day.

Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on aviation, wants to persuade colleagues to focus research on technology that identifies items on people's bodies.

"The chances of someone bringing an explosive on an aircraft by walking through a metal detector or in hand-carried luggage are very real," said Mica, R-Fla.

Mica pointed out that Richard Reid, convicted of trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic jetliner with explosives in his shoes, walked through metal detectors at Orly Airport in Paris several times before boarding the plane.

Null said the biggest problem with the backscatter machines may be their size. One version, the BodySearch system made by Billerica, Mass.-based American Science & Engineering is about 4-feet by 7-feet by 10-feet - awfully big for an airport lobby, Null said.

Another system made by Hawthorne, Calif.-based OSI Systems is more compact.


On the Net:

Transportation Security Administration:


Airport eye scanners for members { December 1 2003 }
Airport screeners may get xray vision
Asia using electronic devices for purchasing { September 30 2007 }
Britain tests car satellite control device { July 3 2005 }
Britian fingerprint
California tries tax by mile with car tracking { November 16 2004 }
Carjacking tracked high tech { July 17 2003 }
Chase introduces radio microchip payments { May 19 2005 }
Clone born soon
Consumer database { November 21 2002 }
E big brother { April 18 2002 }
Eye recognition { April 21 2003 }
Fbi prepares vast database of biometrics { December 22 2007 }
Finger prints { May 15 2002 }
Fingerprint checks
Fingerprint jeffco { October 2 2002 }
Gene precrime
Government tracks laser printer documents { November 22 2004 }
Hi tech security { September 24 2002 }
Iao [gif]
IAO [jpg]
Ibm asci purple { November 19 2002 }
Ibm ascii purple 290m
Ibm jumps on rfid bandwagon { September 16 2003 }
Internet e dna
Iris scanning airport
Iris scanning being at german airport { February 13 2004 }
LAPD studies facial recognition software { December 26 2004 }
Laser star wars
Library id
Nasa denies { August 20 2002 }
Nasa mind read
National geospatial agency watching americans from space
New jersey school institutes iris scanning
New life weapon { November 21 2002 }
Nima spy satellite { December 15 2002 }
Nonlethal weapons
People zapper { November 3 2002 }
Police use iris scan to track kids
Radio tag track consumers products
Retailers experiment with biometric payment { June 9 2005 }
Satellite tracking cars { June 8 2003 }
Scan eyes { November 14 2002 }
Sleeping weapons
Space images tracking you { May 18 2003 }
Speed cameras { September 22 2002 }
Supermarket chain uses fingerprinting { March 4 2004 }
Surveillance identifies walking style { May 19 2003 }
Tampa scraps facial recognition
Thumb print { July 23 2002 }
Toxic sensors newyork

Files Listed: 51


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple