Getting Intimate with the TSA

NY Times:

Get ready for electronic portals known as backscatters, expected to be tested at a handful of airports this year, that use X-ray imaging technology to allow a screener to scan a body. And yes, the body image is detailed. Let's not be coy here, ladies and gentlemen:

"Well, you'll see basically everything," said Bill Scannell, a privacy advocate and technology consultant.

The primary problem is the government monopoly's over airport security. Customers will be forced to choose between an intimate encounter with a TSA official or not flying at all, as there are no other security providers that might offer something in between. In a competitive market, those that feel this procedure is necessary to ensure safety could choose to fly on flights utilizing the backscatter technology, while those willing to be a bit less secure in exchange for more privacy could opt for a different airline. But under the governmental monopoly, we'll have a semi-public debate about the issue and then only one arrangement will emerge victorious.

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