You may have the option to not use the full body scanners at the airport, but you may not have a say in being strip-searched without your knowledge. The SPO-7 is a new type of scanner now in place at several airports. Though they were tested in 2007 and 2008 in non-sterile areas of many airports, including Denver, most people don’t know what they look like or what they’re for.
Bradley International Airport in Hartford, CT is among the first to install and use this new scanner, called an SPO-7, which uses passive millimeter wave technology to “spot hidden objects on people as they move through the airport.” Oh yea, and TSA officers are also able to capture images of people using it. And you won’t know nor feel a thing as they do so.
While it is of little comfort that the scanners don’t use lasers or x-rays and they can’t see under your clothes, it is still highly disconcerting. The SPO-7 is being used as a pre-security tool in which they hope to stop security dangers before they reach the airplane. So, what’s the really scary part?
the machines will be manned by a small group of TSA agents, including a behavior detection officer “who is trained to look for physiological signs that could indicate that something is wrong.” We already have a guilty conscience (thanks, Catholic school!) and so now we’re destined to be nervous from the moment we enter the airport.
This isn’t going to make anyone feel any safer. It’s going to make things worse because people are going to be freaked out by the machines. Because the machines are movable, you don’t know where they are from day to day. Your anxiety will end up being a false positive result, causing you undo stress. While passive scans are preferable, one has to question why they are even necessary. One has to wonder just how far implied consent is going to be pushed and if the TSA is violating Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27 (2001).