Melbourne, Oct 6 : New airport X-ray technology, dubbed the "virtual strip search", has raised concerns amongst passengers who fear that the images of their genitals will end up being reproduced on websites like Facebook and MySpace.
The full-body scanner has been condemned by travellers, who have claimed that if accepted, the technology could enable children to be screened by paedophiles, or pregnant women to be exposed to radiations harmful for their health. The technology, which goes on trial in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide airports starting this month, allows screeners to detect non-metallic devices, objects and weapons concealed on a person's body, while also giving an outline of a person's organs and genitals.
According to the readers, the new technology has gone too far in breaching a person's privacy.
"Sure as heck, some customs officers will make snide remarks about young girls with breast implants and people with piercings in private locations. You betcha some will appear on Facebook or MySpace," News.com.au quoted a reader, as saying.
"What happens in the event that a woman is screened who does not know at the time of screening that she is pregnant? Doctors advise against such X-ray procedures in the event it causes harm to the baby... where is the liability to be placed in the event of birth defects?" asked another reader.
One more reader asked: "What about adults being able to see effectively naked young children. I hope the vetting for these airport security guards is rigorous."
However, Office of Transport Security executive director Paul Retter has assured that passenger privacy would be protected.
"People who do opt for the technology trial lane can do so knowing that the officer examining the images is located away from the screening lane and cannot see them. Faces are blurred and images are not saved and cannot be transferred," said Retter.
However, some readers are still not satisfied.
"The images aren't saved but what's to stop an operator taking a snapshot of the screen on their mobile phone," said a reader.
However, there were some readers who felt the screenings would make flying safer, and hoped the new device would do away with strip searches.