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RDR: TSA denies British-styled scanners are used in U.S.

Will an image of your naked body be stored and used later?
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By Andrew W. Griffin

Red Dirt Report, editor

Posted: February 9, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY – Alarming reports out of Britain, India and major Internet sites like Drudge Report and Prison Planet are noting the shocking story headlined “Shah Rukh signs off sexy body-scan printouts at Heathrow.”

After all the alleged reassurances that the body scanning machines that have been installed at airports around the world would not retain images of naked bodies going through the machines, we see that is not the case, at least in the United Kingdom. And with hundreds of the scanners on order in the wake of the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight, passengers are hoping to not be the one to have to go through the invasive machines that are able to detect weapons and other items on your naked body.

The above story highlights a recent experience by Indian movie star Shah Rukh Khan, recounted on a British talk show, who went through a body scanner at London’s Heathrow airport. He told the host that after going through the machine, he was approached by workers who wanted him to autograph images of his naked body taken by the body scanning machine.

The Bollywood superstar appeared to take the invasive experience in stride, adding, “It makes you embarrassed – if you’re not well endowed.”

In the United States, the Transportation Security Administration has been announcing plans for 300 more of the RapiScan body scanners to be installed at airports across America. With this report, saying that images are in fact retained and recorded, at least in Britain, concerns are rising among passengers.

“The British are completely separate from what we do in the U.S.,” said Andrea McCauley, spokesperson for the TSA at their Dallas-Fort Worth office, which overseas airports in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

McCauley said that the body scanning machines in the U.S. don’t have the software to retain and store images of people’s naked bodies as they go through the scanners.

“We can’t transmit it,” McCauley said.

Yet, they are very invasive and intrusive and aren’t entirely effective as some reports have noted. As our sister site, Oklahoma Watchdog, noted last month, in a story headlined 'Naked machines' headed for airports, McCauley said TSA takes passenger concerns about safety and privacy seriously.

She told Oklahoma Watchdog that both millimeter wave and "backscatter" technology will be implemented. Millimeter wave technology beams millmeter wave frequency energy over the surface of the body at high speed. This creates a three-dimensional image, showing the passenger's naked body - genitalia and all - although facial features are blurred.

Which begs the questions - how did the security workers at Heathrow know Khan was going through the machine and what technology do the British have that allows them to keep and print an image of Khan's naked body?

At British airports passengers are not given an option of having a pat down if they are asked to step into the body scanning machines. If they refuse they will not be allowed to proceed to their flight.

While there are body scanning machines at the Tulsa International Airport, Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City has not received one of the machines yet, McCauley told Red Dirt Report.

Since installing the body scanners at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport in Arizona two years ago, 90 percent of passengers have opted to go through the body scanning machines rather than opt for a pat down.

And that is what McCauley wanted to reiterate, that passengers can opt out of going through the body scanners and have a pat down instead.

Asked about the radiation concerns as noted in a Bloomberg report last week which said the machines exposed passengers to “higher levels of cancer-causing radiation,” McCauley was quick to say that “it is safe” and compared it to being safer than using a cell phone.

“If passengers don’t feel comfortable going through them, they are welcome to opt out,” she said.

The report, which quotes the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety has announced in a new paper that “pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning” because of concerns that even small doses of ionizing radiation is dangerous.

“We have tried very hard to education passengers about the process,” McCauley said. “We want to let them know that (going through the scanners) is optional.”

Copyright 2010 West Marie Media

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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