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Mar. 4 2010 - 10:38 am | 1,329 views | 0 recommendations | 15 comments

Muslim woman refuses body scan in UK airport, loses ticket

Body Scanners -- Old Technology

Image by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via Flickr

Airport security officials in the United Kingdom weren’t kidding when they said they were going to force randomly-selected passengers to go through full-body scanners at security checkpoints. They’re not showing any mercy, and now the real debate has begun.

A woman who was selected at random was prohibited from passing the security checkpoint recently at Manchester Airport. She couldn’t board her scheduled flight to Pakistan as she refused to walk through a full-body scanning device. Her traveling companion did the same, citing “medical reasons” as an explanation.

The two women are thought to be the first passengers to refuse to submit to scanning by the machines, which have provoked controversy among human rights groups.

They were introduced on a limited basis last month at Heathrow and Manchester airports in response to the alleged attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a jet over Detroit on Christmas Day using explosives concealed in his underpants.

via Muslim woman refuses body scan at airport -Times Online.

As I’ve said in the past, if it means we’re all going to be safer getting on the aircraft, then I’m completely willing to endure going through a full-body scanner. I’m more concerned with my safety and my life rather than someone in a distant room getting an alternative look at me on a computer that can’t even save the photo.

Furthermore, are “medical reasons” enough of an excuse to turn down a body scan? If they’re not going to let you on the plane with a little cold in fear of spreading swine flu, it’s obvious now that one won’t work either.

But it is evident that this was going to be controversial, especially when it comes to privacy rights and respecting religious values. Values differ from culture to culture, country to country, and we should have respect for all of them.

Yet, given the heightened-state of  paranoia we live in now (justified again after Dec. 25, 2009), is that enough to stop the implementation of full-body scanners if it means stopping a potential plane bomber?

My answer is no. What do you say?

[poll id="18"]


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3 T/S Member Comments Called Out, 15 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    I disagree. First of all these machines are capable of storing images in test mode, and I’m sure a trip to a computer hardware store would make that an easy task for someone with a bit of skill (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/01/airport-scanners/).

    Secondly, if your reason for allowing these full body scans is for greater security against terrorist attacks your fears are greatly misplaced. Day to day life carries many risks, and lowest among them is death by air-born terrorist. If we were to safeguard ourselves against all risk not only would we not be able to get anything done, but we would also have to sacrifice many of the freedoms we take for granted. Namely not having to bare ourselves before TSA employees. To quote Ben Franklin: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    and lastly, how does the December 25th “attack” justify anything? The way I heard it that genius only managed to burn his junk off with some exploding underwear. Public paranoia justifies nothing! Where did you learn such tripe?

  2. collapse expand

    I have to agree with the last comment. Anyone performing a serious, real-world, risk analysis should be able to see that there are many cheaper, safer, and less privacy-depriving ways that airport security can be improved. If you believe ANYTHING is worth your safety, you should find it hard to justify driving in personal automobiles to save time, as they are very deadly. Yet, hundreds of millions of us choose to do so anyways, because there is always a level a safety we are willing to disregard for our liberties and out of sheer convenience.

  3. collapse expand

    Rutherford said it well. These images can be stored. They can also be uploaded to zip drives, which means the pictures can be uploaded to the internet. And they are still run by morons and provide little security.

    As has frequently been repeated, he who will trade liberty for security will have neither. Look at the history of anti terrorism measures in the US. Every time, the government promises that the give additional safety. Everytime the government promises that they are very limited in scope. Every time they have lied.

    Take for example warrantless wiretaps. Turns out the CIA was just recording soldiers in Iraq having phone sex with their wives. Then passing the tapes around and giggling. Feel safer yet? How many domestic calls have been tappes? Turns out, most of the time, they never go and apply for the warrant afterwords. Fun stuff. Of course, they were only going after suspected terrorists calling the US, right?

    With all due respect, it is pretty insane to blindly accept what the government is slinging in terms of security talk these days. Even the most intense maximum security prison probably has 19 box cutters on the yard. Do you really want to go through that level of security? Do you realise that even with that level of security things will get through? Do you realise that we do not have the money for such foolishness? Do you realise that it only takes one perv at the TSA to upload your nudie pics to the intrawebs?

  4. collapse expand

    I’m torn on this idea. On the one hand, full-body scans seem like a good way to sniff out explosives. But I feel sorry for the TSA agents who have to see naked travelers all day. We are not all models.

    However, these really do nothing to reduce the chance of attacks before you enter the security line, and I think terrorists would simply adapt.

  5. collapse expand

    Have you actually LOOKED at a full body scan image? These are not photographs to be stored and posted on your local porn site. They look more like an X-Ray. Individuals are not uniquely identifiable. How big a prude do you have to be? I’ll take the “common good” over these “individual rights” arguments, especially when they are so sex-obsessed and shallow – the “safe compared to driving cars” argument is used for everything and means nothing – just about anything including skydiving and juggling explosives is likely safer than driving cars – so what? Complain about the Patriot Act or RICO laws and you have a valid point about crossing the line and the erosions of our rights and freedoms – these body scans aren’t anywhere near that.

  6. collapse expand

    I’d prefer not to live in a police state. Thanks. Not really worried about being blown up in an airplane. That’s ridiculous. It’s not going to happen. Besides, the Christmas bomber had an escort. Probably one of the intelligence agencies.


    When terrorists start shooting up or bombing shopping malls, then we’ll have a problem. Until then, this is all a bunch of nonsense.

    And the airport scanners emit ionizing radiation. I’d prefer not to get cancer either.


    I swear, some of you people don’t think for yourself.

    • collapse expand

      Brent because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they don’t think for themselves – it may simply mean you are arrogant.

      Ionizing radiation sounds scary, but others in the scientific community not into fear mongering disagree.


      “One scan emits less than 10 microrem, the unit used to measure radiation, he said. Comparably, an hour on an airplane at a high altitude exposes a passenger to 300 microrem, and the average person is exposed to 1,000 microrem of radiation over the course of a normal day, Reiss said.”

      So I’m guessing you shouldn’t fly at all if you don’t want cancer. Not sure what your going to do about the 1,000 a day you are exposed to – hide in a lead lined room? Don’t touch the lead though – it’s toxic too! :)

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  7. collapse expand
    deleted account

    In a world where terrorists favour airplanes as venues and/or weapons, security measures like full body scans are a necessary evil.

    Anyone who refuses to be scanned should not be allowed to broad.

    Do I like it? Heck no! I miss the days when I could arrive at airport 10 minuets before departure and still get to where I needed to go…

  8. collapse expand

    If you don’t want a scan…swim, drive or walk.

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    About Me

    I'm a freelance journalist based in northern France, covering business, technology and travel. I've worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State, and had clips & photos published in the New York Daily News, MainStreet.com, and Irish America Magazine, among others. Before that, I obtained a B.A. in Mass Communications and History from the University of California, Berkeley and a M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University, where I served as art director for the student magazine, Plated. I also currently cover digital cameras and camcorders for ZDNet.

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