Naked body scanners in airports: They don’t work

The debate rages, for a few weeks now, after the attempted bombing of the Amsterdam-Detroit flight in which a terrorist tried to ignite an explosive device hidden in his underpants. Shouldn’t we install this wonder technology that allows to strip naked search the passengers and to see anything they transport under their clothes? “Long live the body scanners!” shoot the industry, “This is the end of privacy in transports” reply the freedom rights partisans (and I will not even quote those worried about bringing up uniformed voyeurism).

But shouldn’t the first question be: “Does it work?”

A German TV channel decided to ask the question and invited a leading company in this field for a demonstration of such a machine in a TV studio under the surveillance of their best expert while submitting a “would-be terrorist” to a body scan.

You don’t need to speak German to understand what happened: All goes down the drain when the machine sees the wireless microphone box at the belt of the “guinea pig”, but -most important- does not detect the presence of several components of chemical products that will be used to manufacture a powerful explosive (very similar to what happened on last Christmas, wouldn’t you say?)

Technology failed here.

You really want to install those expensive gizmos in airports for the sake of theatrical security?

YouTube link

And don’t make me believe that this was unfair: No airport can hope to keep the manufacturer expert in front of the machine to analyze the images… The reality would be much worse. The fact that the “victim” did his best to hide the chemical products was just representative of what a determined terrorist would be trying with a real bomb.



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