Sunday, April 12, 2009

TSA Screening Poses a Whole Body of Issues to Sort Out

The Transportation Security Administration has deployed millimeter wave passenger imaging technology to nearly 20 airports around the country on a pilot basis.

Above is a bare-bones look, from the TSA, at how fully clothed passengers might appear in 3-D to screeners.

It's a passenger-screening methodology that Joe Sharkey's High Anxiety blog terms "the TSA Strip Search Machines."

Imagine how you or your children might look to TSA screeners if the images above were to be enlarged.

The TSA claims it won't save the images, but one can only imagine the possibilities for abuse.

It's a tough issue. Are there better alternatives? Are there safeguards that could be put in place? Will some of these images somehow end up in the tabloids or in some no-fly list somewhere?

Will such an invasion of privacy give people another reason not to travel?

The TSA claims that emission levels from millimeter wave imaging are safe, 10,000 times less than a cellphone transmission. I don't necessarily trust governmental estimates on these sorts of things, however.

A bunch of airports internationally in Europe, Asia and Mexico already are using the technology.

What's your perspective? Leave a comment and let me know.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dennis - I like your blog. What do you thing about New England cruises in the summer? Would you use a travel agent? Interested in you thoughts.


Dennis Schaal said...

Hi Maura: I have never been on a New England cruise, but cruising around Bar Harbor sounds good to me. It's a matter of personal preference regarding the choice of whether to book online or use a travel agent. Particularly with cruises, which can be very complex bookings, you might want to consult with a travel agent who knows the ships and itineraries and can help you make an informed choice that is best for you. Some of the cruise websites don't even offer real-time pricing: They suggest you send in a quote request or phone the cruise agent. If you indeed want to book online, you might want to start with one of the deal websites like, where you can access the booking engines of about a half-dozen online cruise-sellers. However, unless you know someone who has taken New England cruises or unless you are ready to do hours upon hours of research about it, you might just want to pick up a phone or stop by your local travel agency, especially if the agency specializes in cruises.