The European Union banned a variant of full body scanners (used extensively in the U.S. by the Transportation Security Administration) this week at the airports of all 27 member states, “[I]n order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.”
The TSA responded to the news with a non-sequitur:
Since January 2010, advanced imaging technology has detected more than 300 dangerous or illegal items on passengers in U.S. airports nationwide.
Of course the TSA failed to mention that most of those 300 “dangerous or illegal items” were drugs like marijuana, not any credible threats to aviation security and that when it comes down to it, busting people for drugs is well beyond their job descrption.
In justifying their decision to ban X-ray type full body scanners, the EU simply pointed out the unnecessary risk walking through scanners entail:
While the level of radiation is extremely low, some studies have found that over time a small number of cancer cases could result from scanning millions of people a year.
Yes, I will be the first to say you receive more radiation during an airline flight than when walking through a full body scanner, but that does not mean we should expose people unnecessarily to any more radiation.
Oddly, there has been a carve out in the ruling for Manchester, England:
Manchester airport, which has 16 of the £80,000 machines and bars anyone refusing a scan from boarding a flight, has been told it can continue using them for another year.
If they are unsafe and ineffective, why continue to allow them in Manchester? I suspect the huge price tag of the machines had something to do it with, but certainly a human life is worth more than £80,000.
As troubling as that exception is, at least the EU is moving the right direction on this issue. Now if only the TSA could be so rational…