As we know, the new 3D airport scanners in use across the United States and being introduced in the UK are designed to show reveal whether there are any concealed weapons on a person’s body. As discussed in an earlier post, the principle is somewhat flawed, as there are so many ways around this system, especially around the concept of a sterile airport environment, post-security. This is analogous to having a simple network-perimeter security model in an IT-context.

However, the other big problem is the fact that these things take pictures of people’s naked bodies and people are in charge of selecting passengers and reviewing the images. There’s a great article on Gizmodo entitled “TSA Says Body Scanners Saving Images ‘Impossible'” with a saved image from a body scanner in the article. The difficulty here is that this whole area is ripe for abuse.

I do want to make it clear that those performing security checks at airports are doing a decent job. As with any large group of people, especially with a certain level of temptation, there will be the odd bad apple. It needs to be made clear that leering at people is not appropriate and is not just “a bit of fun”. Take the case of Donna D’Errico, a former Baywatch star. She has been singled out numerous times for the 3D scanner treatment and she accuses the security personnel of voyeurism.

So, given that they can be easily circumvented, is it appropriate to put a system in that can so easily be abused, where there is little chance of redress? Many clubs and companies use x-ray scanners to scan personal possessions prior to entry: would we be happy for 3D scanners to be widely deployed in the same way?