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Full-body scanners at airports: Potential life-savers or invasion of privacy?

by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on February 3, 2010 at 3:01 PM

WASHINGTON -- There are questions on Capitol Hill this morning about the full-body scanners in use at 19 U.S. airports, including Sky Harbor here in Phoenix. Are they potential life-savers? Or are they nothing  more than an invasion of privacy?

As Dave Cassidy from our Washington bureau explains, if passengers at two British airports refuse to go through the scanners, they're not boarding a plane. While that hasn't happened here yet, the U.S. government is buying 1,000 more of these controversial full-body scanners, and half of them could be in place by the end of the year.

The good news is that these scanners can see if somebody is carrying a weapon. The bad news is they can see everything else, too, every part of a person's body.

The person who is watching the scan is in a separate room and never sees the person who is being scanned. In addition, the images are supposed to be destroyed right after they're viewed.

Today, a House panel will consider other technologies that could show concealed weapons without showing the human body.

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