COCKEYSVILLE, Md. - The TSA calls them another weapon in the fight against terrorism. Advanced Imaging Technology, or body scans, are at 41 airports, including BWI.
The machines are meant to detect a wide range of threats. But even children could be picked by an agent to move through one, which doesn't sit well with Michelle Nemphos of Cockeysville.
Her 12-year-old daughter, whom she did not want to appear on camera, was at Tampa International Airport on vacation with a family friend when a TSA officer chose her.
"It's an image of a nude child that they're seeing. This is child pornography whether people want to believe this or not. How is this any different," said Nemphos.
A TSA spokeswoman say the agency's protocol protects privacy. Sari Koshetz says “The officer viewing the image is in a locked room with no windows. The door to the locked room is not opened until the passenger has cleared the checkpoint and the images have been deleted. Should the two officers need to communicate, that is done with whisper headsets."
For Nemphos, that's not enough, not only for her child, but anyone under age 18.
"People think that this is a blurry image. It is not a blurry image. It is an image of a naked person," she said.
Nemphos is still waiting on a response from the TSA. Meantime, her story is grabbing the attention of national media. She hopes to changes policies and no children will be scanned at the airport.
"Overall, we need to trust our government. I'm certainly a patriot just like anyone else is. But there are certain things we need to look into for ourselves and for the sake of our children," said Nemphos.
The body scans are optional. And there are signs informing passengers. But the alternative is a pat down.
The ACLU added this: “The ACLU opposes using intrusive body scans as part of a routine screening procedure. Passengers expect privacy underneath their clothing and should not be required to display highly personal details of their bodies as a pre-requisite to boarding a plane. This is especially true of children, because there are legitimate concerns about an adult viewing strikingly graphic images of a child's body. The Transportation Security Administration needs to ensure that people know they can object to the scans, and have an opportunity to object, particularly if the scan would be of a child.”
The TSA added: The technology used in the Advanced Imaging Machines in Tampa and in Baltimore is millimeter wave technology, which meets national and international health and safety standards. The energy emitted by these machines is thousands of times less than what is permitted for a cell phone.
TSA makes great efforts to ensure the privacy of the public is protected. Privacy protocols are in place that prevent the officer attending to the passenger from ever seeing the image and the officer who views the image never sees the passenger. The officer viewing the image is in a locked room with no windows. The door to the locked room is not opened until the passenger has cleared the checkpoint and the images have been deleted. Should the two officers need to communicate, that is done with whisper headsets. As part of the privacy protections, the machines cannot store, print nor transmit the images and they are deleted immediately after viewing. Additional privacy protections include the fact that faces are blurred and the image is like a fuzzy photographic negative.
Any passenger capable of assuming and holding the AIT stance for 5 seconds is eligible for AIT screening. Parents carrying infants or children will not be screened by the imaging technology. Parents/adults accompanying children may opt out of imaging technology screening for themselves or on behalf of the child. Again, imaging technology is optional for all passengers. Multiple signs are posted throughout the checkpoint queue and on the advanced imaging technology units notifying passengers of their options. The goal is to inform passengers of these options without negatively impacting security line wait times, which has been demonstrated when security officers engage each passenger in conversation.
Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
More Baltimore County News
Three people were rushed to the hospital with serious injuries following a multi-vehicle crash on I-95 Sunday evening.
Is it snowing? View and send photos here!
As Baltimore gears up for the approaching wintry mix of snow, icy conditions, heavy rain and potential flooding today and Monday, December 8th and 9th, the Maryland Transit Administration’s goal, as always during weather events, is to keep service operating in a safe manner for customers and employees.
A woman was found dead in the bathroom of her home Cecil County.