WASHINGTON, DC -- The next time you go to an airport, your
privacy may be invaded by "X-rated X-rays" -- new, high-tech scanners
that reveal every curve of your naked body right through your clothes,
the Libertarian Party warned today.
The machines, called the BodySearch, are already in operation
at JFK Airport in New York and five other major airports around the
country, and will be installed in every large airport in the USA by
"You can be exposed like a Playboy playmate by these new
voyeur-vision devices -- even when you are fully clothed," warned Steve
Dasbach, Libertarian Party national director. "With the BodySearch
device, airport officials can eyeball your intimate body parts as
casually as they X-ray the contents of your suitcase.
"And since airport officials don't need a search warrant to use
these X-rated X-rays, everyone from your teenage daughter to your
grandmother can be technologically stripped stark naked -- in stark
violation of their right to privacy."
The new BodySearch device does not generate photographic
quality images, but does display clearly distinguishable shapes of
intimate body parts like genitals and breasts, according to federal
officials. Portions of the display can also be enlarged by the operator
for closer examination.
Along with an image of the traveler's naked body, the device
also shows anything being carried on the body or in clothing.
Currently, the BodySearch is only being used by U.S. Customs
officials to scan airline passengers who have been singled out for
"special attention" -- but the technology could easily be extended to
every security checkpoint, noted Dasbach.
"The tendency of the government is to continually expand the
use of invasive search technology, whether it is thermal imaging scans
of private homes, gamma ray scanners at border checkpoints, or X-rated
X-rays in airports. Unless Americans protest this trend, every
traveler's naked body could soon be routinely examined by the
government's high-tech Peeping Toms."
But even if the BodySearch is only used by U.S. Customs
officials, that's still cause for concern, said Dasbach, given the
agency's alarming track record of privacy invasions.
In 1998, for example, U.S. Customs employees ordered 2,797
international airline passengers to strip off their clothes at
gunpoint, intimately groped them, and conducted humiliating body cavity
searches. The agency also faces numerous lawsuits for selecting its
strip-search victims based on racial profiling.
"The U.S. Customs agency has shown it doesn't respect
Americans' Constitutional protections against unreasonable search and
seizure," he said. "Why should we trust them with a new high-tech way
to invade our privacy?"