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Travel & Holiday

Holidaying in the USA?

Read about the latest airport security measures
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - December 1, 2010
By: Sheila Lim
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Holidaying in the USA?

If I had to choose between being seen quasi-naked by strangers and being blown to smithereens in mid-air, I would unquestionably choose the former. After all, I’ve nothing to hide (pun intended), and I’m realistic about the seemingly unreal world we are living in these days, where innocent lives can be snuffed out for no apparent reason other than being “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Understandably, travel security bodies like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the USA have little choice but to resort to measures that they think will help them perform their job to the best of their abilities – which is keep the airports and skies safe from terrorists.

Unfortunately, the latest airport security measures they’ve introduced – enhanced full-body scanning and pat-down procedures – are drawing plenty of flak due to privacy issues and fears of radiation risks. But despite all the protests and objections, TSA plans to deploy approximately 500 advanced imaging technology machines at 68 airports this year, and an additional 500 units in 2011.

This being the case, you might as well enlighten yourself on what these new airport security measures entail, especially if you are planning to travel to/within the USA: The TSA currently uses two different types of scanning machines: The first incorporates a millimetre wave technology which bounces harmless electromagnetic waves off of the human body to create an image resembling a fuzzy photo negative. The other uses backscatter X-ray technology which projects an ionising X-ray beam over the body surface to produce an image that resembles a chalk-etching.

To allay fears of privacy intrusions, TSA claims that this imaging technology cannot store, export, print or transmit images, and images are deleted from the system after they are reviewed by the remotely located operator.

If there is a scanner in your security lane and you opt not to go through the screening, you will probably be in for a very aggressive pat-down. However, going through the full-body scanner is no guarantee that you won't have to go through a pat-down as well, especially if any anomalies are detected during the scan.

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