X-Ray Specs

Secure skin show

If the folks at ABC would loosen up, they might find some funny fodder in the latest in airport security: a prototype next-generation scanning system that works by looking through a person's clothes. The machine, dubbed a "virtual strip-search" by the American Civil Liberties Union, is being tested at Orlando International Airport. The Rapiscan Secure 1000 debuted in March and uses low-energy X-rays to see through clothing in order to reveal hidden weapons. In doing so it effectively disrobes its subject, producing a computer image that leaves very little to the imagination.

Rapiscan project manager Bryan Allman told the Associated Press, "Everybody has to learn that the world has changed since September 11, and the world needs a much more thorough type of screening." But ACLU associate director Barry Steinhardt believes the scan goes too far. "We don't need to use this technology," he told CNN. "In fact, we don't even need to test it. We know it works, it works too well. There are other technologies...which will allow us to detect, for example, the presence of plastic explosives. We don't oppose those."

Jane Garvey, head of the Federal Aviation Administration, has also expressed discomfort with the technology, stating that it "raises tremendous privacy issues." Garvey said she doubts the Rapiscan will be approved for national use, except perhaps for screening baggage. Testing at Orlando International continues, however. Officials there plan to employ the scan only when a passenger shows an "anomaly," and for the time being, the station is purely voluntary.

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