If given a choice between being physically assaulted or visually assaulted, which would you choose?
Just this past weekend, the Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix became the first airport in the United States to utilize a new type of x-ray machine, one that sees through clothing to show the outline of an individual’s body. The purpose of the device is, of course, to reveal any concealed weapons.
While the projected image was toned down by developers after it was determined that the picture was too vivid, a very accurate “line-drawing” image is still produced, causing an American Civil Liberties Union director to emphasize that the image should be considered “pornographic.”
Even politician Michael Huffington criticized on webblog The Huffington Post that the machine—besides exposing travelers to radiation—allows security officers to “see things that only your lover or your doctor should see.”
This type of device is an invasion of privacy, and our government could, and should, find alternative ways to protect our airplanes and our citizens without having to resort to a virtual strip-search.
Even though measures have been taken in the attempt to make the experience less invasive—security officers who view the images are situated in a separate room, screeners are gender-conscious and images are not stored—how long will it be before the American public begins to accept such technology into our daily lives?
For now, this new machine is optional, as passengers who fail the first metal detector get to choose between Mr. Laser-Eyes or just a standard pat-down from a security officer.
But if the 90-day test run goes ‘well’, Los Angeles International Airport and JFK of New York may see the new technology in their terminals as well before the end of
The unveiling of the x-ray pilot-program coincides with another news report that came out this past week from the Associated Press in regards to surveillance cameras—and how the “never-blinking” high-tech cams are now not just projecting high-quality images, but may soon be able to analyze the actions of individual people.
According to the article, new computer technology is being developed that is smart enough to not only identify unattended bags and figure out a person’s height, but actually ‘see’ if any individual displays potentially suspicious behavior by analyzing the way, and the direction, they are walking.
In Chicago, there are already sound-sensitive cameras that detect gunshots, and other cameras in Baltimore are utilized to catch graffiti artists. This next generation of surveillance cameras will not only be used to monitor homes, storefronts, street corners and airports, but potentially on our vast borders as well.
And get this: even surveillance-camera developer Rama Chellapa—a professor at the University of Maryland—admits in the article that one “goal” of theirs is to eventually be able to see under the clothes of those being watched.
What kind of control should be considered necessary in order to preserve security, and what is just too much?
This probes into a deeper issue, beyond just decrying the fact that, yes, Big Brother is always watching. This is not the type of world that we should want to live in, where every action could be secretly monitored by computers—and people behind walls—who know, and see, too much for their own good.
This is no longer an issue of safety, but of control.