Airports unleash virtual strip searches

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We started to hear about this technology in the mainstream news late last year, but now it has arrived!

'millimeter wave' and 'backscatter' x-ray scans As of this week, airline passengers in Amsterdam are now being subjected to a new “millimeter wave” full-body scanning system. This body-imaging technology uses non-ionizing electromagnetic waves to generate an image based on the energy reflected from the body. Basically, the machines see through clothing.

According to experts, even though chests and crotches aren’t blurred, this is definitely NOT free porn for airport security staff. Seriously. Even though the scans depict each passenger’s body in graphic detail, all reports reiterate that this is totally not sexy. I mean, if you really look closely, it’s only a dim body outline, plus their genitals and . . . boogity-boogity . . . hey, what’s that over there!?

A similar technology called “backscatter” X-ray systems are being tested at other airports, including Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Unlike the low-energy radio waves used in “millimeter wave” systems, “backscatter” scanning use high-energy X-rays.

Cancer, anyone? Civil liberties? No? We’re all cool with this?

Oh. OK, good. Just checking.

Gotta stop those terrorists. Can’t afford to leave anything to the imagination. You are undie surveillance.

“It’s faster than a pat-down.”

This of course reminds me of the Japanese imitation see-through skirts that were big news in 2003. And the voyeurism-enabling Sony NightShot cameras (with infrared pass filters) that first got everyone all excited about invasion of privacy in the late 1990s.

And there is always the Photoshop X-ray effect (or see-through technique) for “removing” thin, lightly colored clothes from people’s bodies (mainly female celebrities). Watch a Metacafe video or read an X-ray tutorial, if you’re curious how that works. Oh, the degenerate things you can “accidentally” learn on the Internet. The Photoshop technique basically amounts to adjusting Levels in select areas of the photo (other specific image adjustment tools you can use include: Brightness/Contrast, Color Balance, Hue/Saturation, and sometimes a bit of Dodge and Burn).

Who needs privacy anyway?

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