Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TSA Goes to Vegas to Test More Modest Screening Machines

There's some irony in that, ain't there? In a town where pasties are a regular part of some resident's attire, the TSA is testing machines that will help cover folks up. The question becomes: is it crucial to  blur out "sensitive areas" (in this era of underwear bombers) to preserve the dignity of travelers.... or are we putting our modesty before our lives?

Photo by Inha Leex Hale
The back-story: today, at Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington, DC, new screening software was unveiled by TSA spokesman Dwayne Baird.  According to MSNBC.com the images will be sufficiently generic to protect the privacy of those being screened. In fact, the images will be so unoffensive that other passengers passing the screening area will be able to see them. Apparently, these new machines will be similar to those being used in Europe that were originally deemed not effective enough by TSA officials. Today, Baird said that the agency has been working with manufacturers to improve the technology. The machines are being tested at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas now and will soon be in Atlanta.

Obviously, the testing of even more new machines is a result of the brouhaha that erupted last November over the pictures taken by the old machines; and the "invasiveness" of the new pat downs.

But in the months since, only 132 people---out of the millions who have flown in the US in that time-- have filed complaints about the new security procedures with the TSA, according to the DOT.

Do we want to have those 132 people (and the pundits who saw an opportunity to increase their time in the public eye last November) to decide what we do about security or how we spend our ever-dwindling federal budget? And will flying into Vegas be even more of a gamble now than ever?

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