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13 April 2010

Survey Results on the Use of Full Body Scanners

In the January 2010 article reviewing security measures taken in the wake of the Christmas Day bombing attempt on Northwest flight 253, conducted a poll about the US government's intention to increase the use of full body scanners. It was the most popular poll ever on, with 103 responses. The questions were as follows:
  • Do you approve of full body scans at US airports?

  • Should children be scanned in this way?

  • Have you flown on an airliner at least once in the past 12 months?

  • What do you think about the increased security?

Those who responded were overwhelmingly in favor of the scanners. Of the 103 responding, 80 were in favor of using the scanners, and 75 of the 80 were in favor of using them on children. Of the 90 respondents who had flown during 2009, 70 approved of the scanners and 63 of them were in favor of using them on children.

Perhaps more revealing were the 59 people who wrote responses to the last question, What do you think about the increased security? Below, with some minor spelling and grammar corrections, are the responses:
  1. It works to a point. More emphasis on racial profiling as we all know who the real culprits are. What is done currently punishes the normal traveler at the expense of being politically correct.

  2. Good start. I was thinking about the shoe bomb guy We all had to take off our shoes and now the underwear bomb guy... would we all have to take off our underwear? LOL The big question would you rather have some probably bored TSA guy look at your private parts in a scanner or get on that plane and never return home? I don't think its a hard question.

  3. I'm all for it. We should do all we can do to ensure safety of the traveling public. I've traveled world-wide for 35 years to over 60 countries. Passenger and airplane safety MUST be the top priority for the future. The people who want to kill Americans are not going to go away.

  4. It will never be enough and most security measures are now for window dressing. Let us close all shopping centres in the airports and all food outlets. The airports will become safer. But an airport is not a military base and can never be 100 percent protected.

  5. Considering the threat level, I think it´s acceptable.

  6. Just part of flying.

  7. The odds of a successful bomb on an airline are infinitesimal. As long as we live in fear, terrorism is working. What is needed is an information campaign to show how terrorism is NOT working, given that the chance of being on board a jet about to be blown up is zero, for all practical purposes.

  8. Hogwash!

  9. Better that than being blown out of the sky.

  10. I think they should use anything to make flying safe. Would you prefer being dead over scanning?

  11. Necessary in all airports that fly in & out of the US. Additional face to face interview with anyone who buys one-way ticket with cash & offers no personal background information. These are all red flags.

  12. ALL available measures should be taken, including interviews of certain travelers, as the Israeli's do.

  13. If it keeps us safe, I think the extra security is great and cannot understand why some people object to it.


  15. By all means. Profile folks too!

  16. Some parts are plain stupid, e.g. not going to the toilet an hour before landing will not stop anything. If they stopped me i would urinate in my seat if i really had to.

  17. It is not worth the hassle, using screening lists is a better procedure.

  18. Not enough.

  19. Fine by me. Whatever it takes to minimize the risk of a person or persons coming on board with weapons or bombs.

  20. Waste of time.

  21. No matter what the governments do the terrorists can always find a way around the security. Either by waiting until security guards get relaxed or by moving to smaller airports or by using more sophisticated methods. Security can never ever be 100% successful all of the time. The terrorists only have to be successful once.

  22. I am not worried about the increase at all, I would rather be safe than sorry.

  23. It is scaring and makes Air travel worrying. We hope this will be fully utilized without any reservations ,airline crew must also be subjected to this type of screening .

  24. I think that there should be more profiling. Concentrate on potential risk persons, even if this leads to accusations of racism or nationalism. Maybe passengers should be given clearance levels, similar to the classification system for national secrets. There could then be a group of low risk passengers who would go through the normal security procedures. Others might have to go though extra procedures.

  25. I don't like it - but is very much a necessary evil.

  26. Even though full body scan imaging is inarguably helpful in detecting threats and prohibited items, the TSA's use of this technology is a full attack on passengers' privacy. The TSA has proven over and over that it misrepresents and abuses full body scan technology. At many airports where the technology is in use, there is little or no hint that this method of screening is optional. For example, at BUR (Burbank, CA), the incoming stream of passengers gets randomly split between a regular metal detector and a millimeter wave machine. Here, the TSA gives no indication that the purpose of the machine is to view nude images of travelers, and only a small sign with tiny fine print indicates that passengers may request a traditional screening method instead.

    The intended purpose of forcing the technology on the unknowing public appears to be to allow the TSA to turn it into a primary screening method in the future with reduced public outcry. While US Customs have strong legal footing to invade passengers' privacy prior to admitting them into the country, the TSA has absolutely no legal footing whatsoever to peek underneath the clothes of US citizens and lawful residents.

    Every couple of weeks, there is a new story like that of the lady who was put into a TSA restricted hallway and forced to walk like a duck to see if something falls out of her private area; or one of my friends who was put into a concrete room without camera or supervision and a TSOP stuck their hand into his underwear trying to fish for nonexistent contraband. Even if the technology is automated such that prohibited items can be detected without a TSOP viewing nude images of passengers, it is still not the government's business what people have below their clothes or in their underwear. Other than explosives, this amounts to an unreasonable search which is prohibited by law, whether the passengers are carrying an implanted medical device, drugs, medication, or whatever they wish to carry.

    Technology may get better and better, but there must be a set limit how far the government can use it. Maybe one day technology will be advanced enough to detect the chemical composition of the blood flowing in passengers' veins from hundreds of feet away. The existence of the technology doesn't imply that the TSA or Customs or any law enforcement organization has a right to make use of that information or harass innocent people.

  27. It is a real nuisance to the traveler but I suppose it is for the good of all of us.

  28. Lame

  29. I think our government needs to do what ever steps are necessary to protect the passengers and flight crew. I feel our government needs to get more experienced TSA employees. Why not hire our soldiers and give them a good job once they have fulfilled their tour of duty rather than go back to some other jobs they might have had before they went in.

  30. Not enough

  31. Waste of time and money

  32. Too many irrelevant procedures. Security personnel, while performing assigned tasks, appear to lose sight of their goal. It would be good for the public to know what the increased procedures are yielding, this would bolster public support.

  33. I approve of the full body scanners, but my concern is two fold. Why was the TSA not using them more before December 2009, and why are we still not accepting that "threat profiling" (I did not say racial or ethnic) is the way to go! Since all of the 9-11 attackers were male, arabic, in ages of 20-40 years old, that should be a dead giveaway to profile. We were not attacked by young "italian nuns" or "young Brazilian tourists", but by 19 young men of arabic descent or origin. I believe it would be far more effective and cost beneficial to start doing this "threat profiling" on anyone that fits that description, instead of this "charade" of doing a "computer random" sampling, which means we waste our efforts on a 79-year-old Irish nun, or a 62-year-old auto worker from Michigan.

  34. Good. Questionary (Asking questions) like El Al would be good.

  35. Complete waste of time and money. Current systems are adequate for the task.

  36. It's a must.

  37. Negligible

  38. Some of the rules are ridiculous like no getting up during the last hour of the flight and no carryons for flights heading to the U.S. Those wouldn't have prevented the Northwest bombing attempt.

  39. It was hurry-up and wait, it could be a smoother process if we would adopt the Israeli security practices, (especially their predictive profiling and security questioning).

  40. Keep us safe.

  41. Happy to spend a few extra hours to help reduce the probability of NOT arriving at my destination.

  42. Only stands to reason nowadays.

  43. I am writing my Dissertation on Commercial Aviation Security to complete me Doctorate in Business Administration. Dr. Andrew Thomas is one of my committee members; I enjoy his guidance and conversations. I believe that we are in big trouble and politics is getting in the way of real security. The people in charge are clueless to direct the security, most of the TSA leadership does not have a aviation background and the average person does not understand that it is the leadership causing the system to be flawed.

  44. Extra care is needed.

  45. The first question is not well formed; the question should include how the full body scanners are used; if they were used as a secondary screening of those people of interest or for suspicion, I would approve. Second, the thing that saddens and amuses me is that all the measures the TSA is pushing in response to the December 2009 attack are imposed at US airports on mostly US passengers. If such screening were carried out at airports to foreign airports for flights destined for the US, I'd believe in their positive efficacy. Lastly, the reports or requirements to turn off electronic equipment and remain seated during an extended period before landing, keeping laps clear of items such as blankets for large portions of the flight, and additional restrictions on when the lavatories (can be used) seems absolutely ridiculous. This is sort of like closing the barn door after the horses ran out. What this means is that the potential terrorist will start their actions a little earlier than planned but literally millions of passengers will be unnecessarily bored,and scared senseless, with no chance of increasing safety.

  46. It is the right thing to do.

  47. Increase it more.

  48. Body scanner will help overcoming some fundamental deficiencies when it comes to passenger screening. However, it will require screeners to be able to 'interpret' devices, items or substances identified by these systems. Again, technology is not the only means and there is no single 100% cure for aviation security.

  49. I am still uneasy about flying. How do the TSA know who to screen and who not to, what if a terrorist does not get a full body scan? I would much rather take the risks of driving than flying at this point.

  50. Necessary evil.

  51. Every reasonable method must be used to stop would be terrorists. Full body scanner fall within the realm of reasonable. Better ticket counter 'tip off', and identification and alerts for secondary screening should be implemented ASAP. Hidden CCTV cameras should be installed at each ticket counter so that positive ID can be made for those deemed suspicious (no luggage, cash ticket, nervous behavior, etc.) by the ticket agent so that secondary screening can be conducted by TSA and foreign airports with flights to US. Use Israeli screening methods at secondary screening points.

  52. Cero

  53. What is needed for air safety must be done. Safety before privacy when you want to fly.

  54. While I do not object to more security procedures, I do believe the airports should be profiling people. We have had proven data that young males of middle eastern nationality are prime suspects. Subjecting children under say the age of 10, elderly people in wheelchairs, and medal of honor recipients to screening and searching is NOT the answer to better security. Body scans would help, but since not all airports would be having the equipment, that leaves holes in the process

  55. If somebody shows abnormal behavior, it is possible for him/her. But it must not be for everybody.

  56. FUD

  57. A joke. Implement it ASAP regardless of who complains, especially the ACLU (all criminals love us).

  58. Security definitely needs to improve and be strong enough to prevent future hijackings. I don't want any terrorist attacks happening ever again.

  59. It really is pointless, I personally can think of a few major holes in the security procedures which still have not been discovered and could easily bring down a plane. What's more, they aren't even difficult to do. My point being you will never truly make a flight totally safe as was said here. Arm the Pilots and Crew and you might be safe though.

Photo: gregoryjameswalsh


  1. Noone forces noone to travel. The major good is the priority here. If I decide to fly I have to obey the rules of the carrier who says this way: "I trust noone, so either you fly my rules or find another carrier who take you on board".

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