Controversy erupted in 2010 when the use of full body scanners was included in the enhanced security procedures implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The devices, which produce “naked” images of passengers through the use of radio waves and X-rays, are able to detect plastic and chemical explosives similar to that used by “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in December 2009.
Critics, however, suggest that full-body scanners may not have detected Abdulmutallab’s explosives, calling the overall effectiveness of the technology into question. Moreover, experts have yet to reach a consensus on the health risks posed by the devices.
We intend to conduct a theoretical investigation of the safety and efficacy of these machines in order to determine how potential gains in air safety measure up to potential losses in personal health and privacy.