Body Scanners Violate Privacy

November 18, 2010 by  


ACLU Press Release

Planning to fly this holiday season? You’ve probably already braced yourself for long lines, delays and extra fees just to check your luggage.

Unfortunately, you can also expect another hassle at the airport this year. 70 airports around the country are now using controversial body scanners—also known as “naked scanners.” These machines use low-dose radiation to produce strikingly graphic images of passengers’ bodies, essentially taking a naked picture as passengers pass through security checkpoints.

Yes, authorities at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) say you can opt out of the naked scan. But doing so will subject you to new and highly invasive manual searches of your body, including your breasts, buttocks and inner thighs.

All of us have a right to travel without such crude invasions of our privacy. Tell DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to put in place security measures that respect passengers’ privacy rights.

The government is also violating travelers’ privacy in another way: by searching and seizing the laptops and other electronic devices of international travelers. Never before in history have customs officers been able to routinely pour through a lifetime’s worth of letters, photographs, purchase records and other data. This enormous invasion of privacy peers into people’s lives in a way that has never been done before.

There’s already an outcry building over all of these new searches. In fact, travelers and the ACLU have pushed back before against invasive screening, and the TSA quietly retreated back to a lighter touch. But if we want to stop these invasive practices, we’ve got to put our voices together.

Tell DHS to rein in these invasive, out-of-control searches and to implement security measures that ensure passenger privacy.

The ACLU has prepared a useful guide to help you navigate your options at the airport. It details ways to protect your privacy during air travel. It also describes how to file official complaints about any TSA trouble you encounter. View it here.

If you think your rights have been violated while you’re traveling, please let us know about it. Just fill out this form online to share your story.

You shouldn’t have to check your rights when you check your luggage. With the holiday travel season fast approaching, we need to make sure that security measures are in place that actually make us more secure without compromising passenger privacy.

Please write Secretary Napolitano today.

Thanks for speaking out.

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