Day Eight – Body Scanners and Why I’m Not Worried

8 01 2010

The big news item of the past couple days has been that the government of Canada has imposed body scanners be put in major airports across the country. Everyone travelling south of the border by plane will be subjected to them until further notice. This, on the heels of a recent terrorist threat on a flight to Detroit. Some people find this to be a gross invasion of privacy; I, however, do not.

Though the, apparently authorless, article at The Ubyssey would have you believe these images are just another step under the ever judging eye of Big Brother, I think this isn’t any different than what we’ve already been subjected to, yet a little safer.

Only technophobes would find this techonology anything other than cool.

I’ve been pat down walking through the metal detectors at airports multiple times and the guards there aren’t shy about feeling around. I don’t understand how someone in a different room, staring at a faceless image of my body could be any more embarrassing. There are worries that you can see fake breast and fat deposits through these machines, but a naked eye could easily spot the same thing. Sorry, but a hoodie isn’t fooling anybody.

As it goes for seeing your genitals, the alternative is always a pat down. I would much rather have the faceless image be sent to someone standing in the general vicinity than someone cupping me while looking me in the eye. Sure, they don’t know what they’re holding to the detail that the person looking at the image would, but they’ll definitely read the uncomfortable look on my face as they continue to pat me down.

Not to mention that after about one shift behind the machine, that security officer won’t care what you’re packing. After two shifts, they would have seen everything there is to see. No one is special enough to be worried that someone is laughing at them in some room around the corner. By the end of the day, the only thing that will catch their attention is something completely out of the ordinary. That’s the point, isn’t it?

It does feel like sometimes we’re giving up our privacy in order to be safe. Some say that it doesn’t really stop anything, but that’s the reason we don’t hear about it. The reason we’ve heard about the near disaster over Detroit is because it was just that. If it were someone who was thwarted at the gate, we would have gone on our day without knowing that yet another person was pulled aside for a secondary screening.

I chalk this up to another case of technophobia. The metal detector is a pretty old piece of technology and it’s about time we upgrade. If this can speed things up a little bit, even allow us to drop the metal detector all together, that could only be a good thing for air travel. Some people seem to agree.

At the end of the day, no one will be forced to go to the US. Especially by plane. If you’re that uncomfortable with someone seeing your faceless, naked body, just stay home. Or take a bus to the border. But you should probably make it a point never to get sick or have a physical, because the doctor just looking at you naked is the least of your worries when you’re there.

They have cold hands.