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Full-body scanners won’t make air travel safer: Surveillance expert

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Queen’s University expert on privacy and surveillance warns that the new full-body scanners that will soon by deployed at the country’s major airports will not make air travel safer and will simply subject ordinary Canadians to more — and more intrusive — government scrutiny.

“Really, this is a public relations announcement by the government,” said David Murakami Wood, a sociology professor who works with the university’s Surveillance Study Centre.

“After an event such as the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing they have to be seen to be doing something, and often the easy thing to do is announce some sort of big shiny machine.”


The new scanners “see” through clothing, allowing the operator a look at naked passengers.

They have been called a “shocking” invasion of privacy by civil liberties groups and an ineffective measure by aviation security watchdogs. In countries such a Britain, they have been found to breach child pornography laws if used on minors.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Wood says the new scanners would not have detected the explosives carried by the alleged bomber who sparked the new security. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, tried to make a bomb on a Detroit-bound flight from Amsterdam using powdered explosives hidden in his underwear.

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This article was posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 10:00 am

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