Thursday, November 18, 2010

Airport Nude Scanners

The current lively debate about the health risks of the back scatter X-Ray airport scanners, misses a very important point. These machines are first and foremost X-Ray machines. The fact that the government is currently using them in a low power mode, to capture the low radiation back-scatter images, does not mean the machines are not capable of a high radiation dose. Whether due to malfunction, operator error or a software glitch, the radiation dosage has the potential to exceed advertised levels. For frequent fliers cancer risk is a serious concern.

Given the rising concern that determined prospective terrorists are likely to use body cavities for hiding contraband, will the government resist the temptation of raising the power level a tad to examine the inside of our bodies? Given that government officials are exempt from the process, would they care if the cancer risk for the rest of us is increasing? Given the potential to make billions more, will the equipment manufacturers hesitate in refitting the machines with a software update that has an image-depth control feature? Do you trust that the government will tell you when it decides to see inside of you?

I have no idea where we are headed, but it doesn't smell right.