See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me.

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority is looking into buying seven “Whole Body Imaging” (WBI) scanners for major airports across the country after what they consider to have been a successful pilot project at Kelowna airport in BC recently.


The US already has these devices in full operation at 19 airports. (including Baltimore, Phoenix Sky Harbour, Tulsa International, Los Angeles, Denver, Alburquerque, NY Kennedy, Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, Baltimore-Washington International, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Reagan National near Washington)

As you may or may not know, these scanners do a 360 degree scan of the individual, allowing officers to see through the clothes of the scannee with images clearly detailing stuff like genitalia and/or whether or not a woman has breast implants. (Oh, and also guns, knives and bottles of shampoo.)


Reporter Jim Spellman of CNN tried out the technology in Baltimore:

My face was blurred out but the rest of my body was clear as day. She (the officer) rotated the black and white 3-D image so I could see every contour of my body, including my private parts. I could see sweat under my arms, the rivets in my jeans and a pack of gum in my back pocket.

Authorities reassure us that:

  •  Faces will be blurred so you are not identifiable;
  • No images will be stored in any database (or collected for a YouTube Hottest Travellers montage);
  • There will be officers manning the walk-in scanner who will see the passengers but not the naked images, and there will be other, completely different officers manning the surveillance centre who will see the images, but not the passengers.

All of the above assurances come with a cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die guarantee.

The point of these scanners is, of course, to catch people smuggling terrorist weapons onboard that can’t be spotted by the usual metal detectors. Items like ceramic guns or plastic explosives taped to their johnsons.

So far they’ve never caught anyone with anything except a few genital warts.

Privacy groups all over the world are freaking out. Last year when the European Union proposed installing these puppies in airports across the country the German government laid down its outraged hammy fist and said “Nein!” A spokesman for the interior ministry said:

 I can tell you in all clarity that we will not take part in this nonsense!

Other European countries went along with the testing period, but most sent the scanners back.

Many passengers who have already been scanned have no idea to what degree they are being revealed by the scanner.

In response to concerns raised by our privacy commissioner, Canada is saying that once the scanners are in place passengers would have the option of being scanned or being patted down as per usual.

Isn’t that sweet?  How long do you suppose that would last when they figure out they can do away with all those security guards and have us just stroll through the Stripmaster 2000?

Okay, I know we have very little privacy these days anyway and the world is a dangerous place so the government needs to look out for us and these scanners are all very businesslike and anonymous, etc., etc…

BUT, this seems like a disproportionally extreme response to a problem that may or may not exist and if so, with a very tiny percentage of travellers. And, as long as there are human beings manning these things there is a huge potential for all sorts of zany antics.

I already hate every single thing about the whole process of air travel. And when criminals caught in the act of committing heinous crimes are afforded more rights to privacy than air travellers, I’m thinking it’s time to find less invasive ways of getting around.BenDover






On a completely unrelated topic, our bloggy friend, the Deep Friar’s sister has lost her dog. He could be anywhere in Kanata/Ottawa. So if you see this lovely Nova Scotia Duck Toller let the Friar know or call the numbers on this kijiji link. The dog’s name is Tipper.



38 responses to “See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me.

  1. I find it amazing that so much time and money has been spent on the “Privacy Act” which really isn’t working, but on the other hand they want to have these scanners. I am sure that the guy above thought that he had totally privacy during the rectal exam above too.

  2. Well, I think this was going to be inevitable. After all these years of abusse from airport authorities here it comes: complete 360 virtual violation of our intimacy. And fuck the charts of freedom!

  3. Woah! That cavity search pic is disturbing! “Privacy” indeed!

    I’m not sure how I feel about these scanners. They could catch weapons that other methods might miss, but yeah there is too strong a possibility for exploitation. Hopefully in the future, people will come out with something better.

  4. No YouTube vids? Gimme a break! EVERYTHING eventually ends up on YouTube!
    These pics, at the very least, will provide some jollies to more than a few security agents!

    “Hey, Ralph, check out the kaboo-boos on this one, ain’t she a treat to the eyes?”
    “Sure thing Herman, but ya should seen the bod on this chick that flew to Paris last week!”

    But seriously, we have to question this development, and seriously. What is the impetus for this? Has there been a recent incident where a would-be terrorist has tried to sneak verboten items in his or her body cavities? Where is the “thing” that the CBSA (Can. Border Services Agency) can point to and say: “see – THIS is why we have to do this!”

    I’d start a fb group decrying this but as I am a frequent flier, I fear I would be put on someone’s “list”.

    Can you tell that I’m really pissed off about this?

  5. Traveling by air is getting less and less appealing by the second. I had to travel a lot following 9-11 and it was horrendous. I still think most of the measures put in place have more to do with someones buddy’s company making more money, than it has to do with safety. ie: the liquid restriction…

  6. Deb – There seems to be a real disconnect between the image we’d like to project to our own citizens & to the world and reality sometimes. We have all sorts of lovely documents and rules and rights and freedoms that learned men and women spend their lives producing; then we ride roughshod over them over some minor bit of hysteria. We have so little privacy left in today’s world, it would nice to at least know that some clown at customs isn’t examining my ovaries every time I travel.

    TTP – It’s only inevitable if we bend over and let them do it to us. We still have the right to say NO! Airports are being completely ridiculous about all their inane precautions. Terrorists are not going to be stopped by these stupid things. They are only going to be stopped if/when our counter-terrorist organizations get themselves organized enough to find and use the right intelligence.

    Hannah – If you’re a terrorist are you going to tape a weapon to your body knowing you’re going to be scanned? Please! They’ve never caught anyone with anything yet and they never will. Not this way. As I said to TTP, the way to stop terrorists is not by terrorizing innocent citizens, it’s by our intelligence agencies doing their jobs properly.

    Trashee – Exactly. It’s a stupid, expensive and invasive gesture to fool people into thinking this is the sacrifice they have to make to stop terrorism. The terrorists are just going to find new, undetectable ways of smuggling stuff onto airplanes. An apt analogy might be if there were a serial killer loose in Ottawa and instead of the police doing their police stuff by hunting down clues, spinning things around in their labs and whatever else they do to catch this guy – they decide it’s much easier to just arrest and detain everyone in Ottawa. Presto! The streets are safe.

    Ian – No kidding. I hate flying. I avoid it whenever possible. If there’s a car, bus, train or boat going to where I want to be, I’ll take it even if it means an extra day or two of travel time. Much more relaxing and humane.

  7. I wonder just how long it will be before we’ll have to scan an id also and this together with scanned images of our bodies go into an FBI or interpol personal file. This is creepy. I just went through the Dallas airport THREE times. I’m glad for those times I didn’t know I was being scanned. I’ll never have that innocence again. Weeping now.

  8. I agree these things are being put up in order to create massive profits for some business somewhere.
    Heck when I was a kid they sold x ray glasses for a few bucks in the back of every comic book.
    Why don’t these comics just use them.
    The astonishing part of all this is that the media say nothing, and the traveling public say nothing, and the “security” part of the economy just grows and grows.
    Meanwhile no one anywhere is finding terrorists trying to get on planes.

  9. I’m really not surprised at all. Have you seen or read the End of America? It might help put some of the pieces of the puzzle in place for ya.

  10. At this rate, it’ll only be a matter of time til they have these things at train stations and bus stations too. Already they’ve implemented additional security measures at bus stations to try to prevent a recurrence of the beheading on that Greyhound bus in Manitoba. Never mind that it was a one-time thing that could have happened anywhere – on the street, in Loblaws, anywhere – and that it’s neither pragmatic nor even possible to prevent random acts of insanity. People were so freaked out by it that reason was thrown out the window and we’re now all being subjected to additional invasions of our privacy on the buses for no good reason.

    It’s a slippery slope. Every time we yield to one more invasion of our privacy, we pave the way for the next invasion. We have to start saying NO.

  11. Good points all around. Security culture at its best.

    I wonder if they did a controlled test to see if that lady in the x-ray image was put through a regular test first, to see if the guards didn’t catch that gun bulging out of her belt.

    I just hope this will save us from the evil guile of the Shampoo Strangler.

    – RG>

  12. Germans said no because of privacy? Aren’t they known for being rather open when it comes to their beach habits? (nudists?) Same with a lot of other European countries, it’s okay to sun bathe nude but they don’t want to be scanned?

    My beef isn’t with the scans. I have nothing to hide. It is with the police state mentality of the security people. Everyone is GUILTY until proven innocent. Don’t talk to them, don’t give them attitude or they’ll make your life a living hell (including parts of your body only your doctor is familiar with.) Everytime I go through the security gauntlet I feel dehumanized. I make a point of “moooo-ing” as I go through. One time I got a whole bunch of folks mooing. Security didn’t find it funny.

    Overkill, paranoia, and hype. The ones that are making out are the ones who scored the big security contracts. Does Cheney have some companies selling security? (like Haliburton). Someone is making $$$$.

    You are right, we, the traveling community, need to speak up and say enough is enough.

  13. Pingback: Totally unneccesary invasion of privacy! | Trashy's World

  14. OK, content, especially the last picture, too disturbing to contemplate, will once again focus on great title. I love the Who.

  15. Lola – Did you go through one of these machines? And they didn’t tell you what it was for? Didn’t give you and option of being patted down? If so, that’s doubly outrageous – that they’re scanning you without your knowledge or permission. I’d go to my congressman or whoever and scream! Loudly.

    Bandobras – I know eh? These things are just quietly being slipped into place with nary a word from anyone. Apparently all our privacy commissioner can do is “voice her concerns”. Meanwhile, terrorists everywhere are laughing their balls off.

    Jen – You should be surprised. You need to be surprised. And shocked. And outraged. People have gotten way to complacent about stuff like this.

    Linda – Me too, Linda. It’s trains and boats all the way for me.

    Zoom – I applaud the leaders of those countries who just said, “piss off with your stupid machines”. I don’t know how the rest of the countries are so easily convincing their citizens that this is in their best interests – to make the skies safe from terrorists. People seem to be so willing to submit to anything as long as they can stuff it under the big, nebulous umbrella of “public safety”

    Grouchy – Apparently the evil terrorists have developed ceramic guns that don’t show up on the metal detectors. And the lady in the scan is a dummy, not a real person which is why you can’t see too many details.

    Reeky – I think you answered the question in your first paragraph by the comments in your second paragraph. Germans love to bare it all, but they’re pretty damn touchy these days about anything approaching extraneous security or policing. I absolutely love that quote by the German interior ministry guy. Why aren’t our government types telling them where to stick their nonsensical machines?

    Alison – Stop sticking your head in the sand, Alison. Next time you travel you and your children might be exposed to this machine without you even knowing it. But again, thanks for noticing the title. Feel free to browse through all my titles and pick a favourite for your personal use.

  16. This is an interesting price of admission. A full body scan would not bother me, so what? At the end of the day, it will all be one big blur for the poor people who have to view the scans.

  17. why should they waste money on these scanners. I thought keeping a track of facebook account will let any one know what anybody else is doing, who is having sex with whom, who is dating a laptop etc

  18. I wonder how many successful terrorist attacks depended on ceramic guns secreted on someone’s body? I’m guessing the answer is something like zero.

    Bruce Schneier (aka “The awesomest bald bearded guy with a ponytail”) calls this security theater, where institution take useless measures in the name of security.

    Take the whole “war on moisture” thing that is still going on at airports. Why can’t I bring a container of OJ onto a plane? Because someone, somewhere, got it into their head that it could be a liquid explosive, even that would be almost impossible to assemble on the plane.

  19. Um.. Erigami, “secreted” may not be a good word to use in conjunction with that cavity-search photo…

    XUP: If the person in the x-ray scan was a dummy, it doesn’t take an x-ray machine to tell that they should be investigated further.

    Also, if the terrorists are laughing their balls off, maybe this machine *will* help find terrorists, so long as we can protect eunuchs from being unfairly profiled.

    – RG>

  20. Tobeme – Some people value their modesty and their privacy. What about when they devise Thought Scanners so they can determine if you are plotting or planning anything untoward before they let you on airplanes or into secure buildings or whatever. Will you mind then?

    Lost – That’s only good for the people who keep facebook accounts. Not everyone in the world does. I understand it’s very difficult to infiltrate the code on terrorists facebook accounts, which is why we all have to get naked now.

    Erigami – “War on moisture”, I hadn’t heard that one. Very good. And I totally agree with the awesomest bald bearded guy with a ponytail.

    Grouchy – I knew you’d run with the “balls off” analogy.

    Geewits – They’ll find stuff in your mouth, too. This thing has levels so it can see into your anal or vaginal canal and even your stomach to see if you’re transporting drugs. They’ll for sure see the Bic lighter in your mouth. According to my research the Dallas Fort Worth Airport scanner has been at international Terminal D since last summer. So, either you were at a different airport or different terminal or you went through the thing without knowing it. They don’t tell you what it is or what is does; they just ask you to step through it.

  21. I’m laughing too hard at that last picture to make any comment about these machines. I’m surprised Lola was able to type a comment!!! Aw, I needed that today!!!

  22. That’s it. Before I fly off on vacation to your fair land, I’m going to draw a big smiley face on my belly with marker pen. The stretch marks can be the wrinkles on the forehead. May as well give the guy at the airport a laugh. No. Wait. Canadian border staff have had their sense of humour gland surgically removed haven’t they? (Either that or it’s removable, like a pen drive, and they have to take it out and leave it in their locker while they are on duty) So the scanner guy would most likely freak out and assume I was smuggling a big terrorist head into the country under my comfy sweatshirt. Better give this a little more thought.

  23. The ‘end’ picture (cough cough) terrified me

    The story makes me uneasy

    The comments?

    Well they have had me howling!!!!

    I like the Moooooiiiinnnngggg one – gotta try that some time I don’t mind missing a flight as I get tossed into the little room for the whole search!

  24. Does anyone really believe that terrorists are stupid enough to do it the same way that hypothetical “next time”? Besides, they’re already won if we’re developing things like that scanner.

    This being said, I’d rather be scanned than cavity searched any day.

  25. Like others, you got me with the last picture!

    Right now, as annoying it is to go through security I find the worst thing about it is dealing with the security agents! They just plainly SUCK!!

  26. Elizabeth – Hey, it was supposed to be horrifying! HORRIFYING! Not funny. Although naked butts always seem to be funny for some reason. Especially when there’s a fist in them. Unless the butt and/or the fist is yours, I guess.

    Loth – Don’t worry, you’re still safe. The machines haven’t been bought or installed yet. We’re still thinking about it. And I doubt that Halifax will be one of the first airports to get one. You can put away the marker and relax. (Until next time, mwah, ha ha)

    Elliott – So, what you’re saying is “you laughed, you cried, you couldn’t put it down?”

    Jazz – Ya, I said sort of the same thing a few times – the old barn door and horse thing. Not that terrorists are smart or anything, but we’re not going to bring them down by taking naked snapshots of each other.

    Helen – Well, from now on they’ll suck AND smirk knowingly at you

  27. I’m travelling by air this summer. Aaauugghhh! Now instead of worrying about terrorists or a plane crash, I can worry about the body scan before I even get on the plane. I wonder if my scan will look better if I hold my breath or do my pelvic tilt?

  28. well then. if i go thru that thing, the inspectors are going to see my nipple ring, without me voluntarily showing them.. that is just not fair

  29. Pinklea – I think you can still refuse and opt for the pat-down instead. They won’t ask you or tell you that you’re being scanned in most places – you have to ask. I think we should all categorically refuse to be scanned.

    Jobthingy – It’s really not. See my resonse to Pinklea! Just tell them to stick their scanner.

  30. XUP – the last picture made me cry

    The comments made me laugh

    the storyline made me cringe

    all in all – yes – I couldn’t put it down 🙂

  31. Olivia – It IS! It’s the beginning of the end. Or maybe we’re already near the end and this is just one giant step even closer.

    Elliot – That’s all we can ever ask.

  32. I haven’t been able to comment on your blog since you made this post. You seriously caused a brain fart (and I don’t mean a spinach-laden one, either). Or an aneurysm. Is bleeding from the eyeballs a bad sign?