Airport security scanner shows naked truth
An airport scanner that speeds up boarding while allowing passengers to avoid the pat-down security search has one potential drawback: The scan shows the passenger in a near naked state, providing a black-and-white outline of breasts and genitalia.
The X-ray style scanner, made by RapiScan Systems of Hawthorne, Calif., is in use at Manchester Airport's Terminal 2 as part of a pilot project and is expected to be rolled out in other airports across the U.K. and U.S. some time in the future.
According to Rapiscan's website, the Rapiscan Secure 1000 is "the most effective people screening solution available," and can detect explosives, narcotics and ceramic weapons as well as metal objects.
However, it also shows much more than that. Pictures posted on British news sites clearly show the outline of a person's genitalia. According to the BBC, the full body scans will also reveal breast enlargements and body piercings.
Officials at both Manchester Airport and Rapiscan said passengers prefer the full-body scan over having to undress or be patted down.
"This scanner completely takes away the hassle of needing to undress," Sarah Barrett, head of Manchester's customer experience told the BBC, adding that most passengers did not like the traditional "pat down" search.
Rapiscan says on its website that "in a recent study, 19 out of 20 persons preferred a Secure 1000 scan to an invasive pat-down physical search. The system is completely safe for all persons and exceeds the requirements of health authorities worldwide."
Barrett said passengers have the option not to go through the full-body scan.
"The images are not erotic or pornographic and they cannot be stored or captured in any way," Barrett told BBC.
The scanner works by beaming electromagnetic waves on passengers while they stand in a booth. A virtual three-dimensional image is then created from the reflected energy.
People undergoing a scan are exposed to a fraction of the energy they would receive during a CT scan, according to Rapiscan.