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Privacy activists score victories against more detailed body scanners at airports

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John C. Hayes
Chicago Tribune
Sunday, January 10th, 2010

WASHINGTON — – The government has promised more and better security at airports after the near-disaster Christmas Day, but privacy advocates are not prepared to accept the use of full-body scanners as the routine screening system at the nation’s airports.

“We don’t need to look at naked 8-year-olds and grandmothers to secure airplanes,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said Friday. “Are we really going to subject 2 million people per day to that? I think it’s a false argument to say we have to give up all of our personal privacy in order to have security.”

The balance between privacy and security tilts after each major terrorism incident in favor of greater security. But in the past decade, privacy advocates have been successful in blocking or stalling government plans for more searches.

A conservative freshman in the House, Chaffetz won a large, bipartisan majority last year for an amendment to oppose the government’s use of body-image scanners as the primary screening system for air travelers. He was joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the scanners are the equivalent of a “virtual strip search.”

The pro-privacy stand does not follow the traditional ideological lines; Republicans and Democrats have united on the issue now and in the past.

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This article was posted: Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 6:26 am





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