In response to this article on The New Republic wherein the author, Amitai Etzioni, tries to convince me that virtual strip searches are good for me and you:
I say, not so fast!
Having recently endured a virtual strip search by inadvertently stepping into a shorter security line, I can tell you that facts aside, one does not feel one bit safer because of this technology. I am a 66 year old grandmother with auburn hair and blue eyes. I am most likely not ever going to wear exploding underwear. As I stood under a black arc of metal in front of hundreds of other people and I raised my arms overhead and placed my feet wide apart so the machine could decode my body felt totally invasive.
Then I was instructed to take my place on a “holding” mat until some unseen Reader verified I was not a threat to my fellow passengers. All of this and I STILL had to remove my shoes, jacket and scarf before entering into the scanner! The process took at least twice as long as the normal security screening.
Despite all the indignity and delay, I am not convinced that some enterprising terrorist could not circumvent all this by simply going through a non-Xray security line. Or, by just being more clever than our technology. The issue is not privacy per se, but more of “Who do we think we are fooling?”
It just feels like more of the same: closing the barn door after the horses have all broken out and damaged the garden. Seriously, I am well aware of the risks hijackers and bombers pose. I have to ask myself are there any security measures we devise that are not subject to breaking by those who wish to harm us? Those who wish to will find a way: hijackers use box cutters so now you have to leave your nail clippers at home, explosives in shoes (make all passengers remove their foot ware), bombs in jockey shorts (x-ray everyone), bomb components in toothpaste tubes and shampoo bottles (toiletries all under 2 ounces and fit in a quart baggie), and so on and so on.
The world is not a safe place. Never has been, never wil be. Scanning grandmas will make us all “feel” safer, however. And, that is what is important, isn’t it?