The federal government today begins testing a device that could replace metal detectors and pat-downs at airports around the country, the AP reports. The scanners produce full-body images of passengers, sans clothing. Privacy advocates are feeling sheepish. “These are virtual strip searches,” one said. “If Playboy published them, there would be politicians out there saying they're pornographic.”
The machines beam electromagnetic waves at passengers and measure the energy that bounces back, rather than traditional radiation techniques. The Transportation Security Administration says it has privacy measures in place: Images appear in a separate room, with passengers’ faces blurred out, and will not be saved. The scanners are being tested in Phoenix, and are in use at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport.