Lawmakers Move To Eject Nude Scanners From New York Airports

A New York City lawmaker on Thursday introduced legislation to prohibit the TSA from using its advanced body scanners at New York airports, including JFK, the busiest international airport in the country.

Critics of the screening have already called for a National Opt-Out day on Nov. 24, traditionally the busiest travel day of the year, to protest the scans, and privacy groups like the Electronic Privacy Information Center are seeking a federal court order to halt the use of the scanners. As of last month, 341 of the scanners were in use in more than 65 airports around the United States, and total number machines is expected to near 1,000 by the end of year, according to TSA.

The imagery from the devices are viewed by screeners in an isolated room, away from the checkpoint, but privacy concerns are mounting as more Americans encounter the scanners. Travelers are allowed to opt out of the electronic strip search, but under new TSA policies they must then accept an aggressive pat-down instead.

“It violates the privacy of everyone, including small children who go through these scans,” said Greenfield (New York City Councilman). “Which is really outrageous when you think about that.”

Greenfield argues that the technology is unsafe, and of dubious security value. A March report from the GAO found that such scanners might not have detected the hidden explosive used by “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his failed Christmas day attack on a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit last year. And, though the TSA says the scanners are safe, some medical experts have voiced health concerns over the long-term effect of the backscatter technology used by about half the machines.

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