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Body Scanner Controversy Emerges in U.K.

File this under: Not surprising in the least.

A security officer received a police warning after making inappropriate comments to a colleague who accidentally walked through a body scanner at Heathrow Airport in London. According to Reuters, “The 25-year-old worker made lewd comments after his colleague Jo Margetson, 29, mistakenly strayed into the scanner, which can see through clothes to produce an image of the body.

The case is believed to be the first of its kind since the full-body scanners were rushed into service at a number of British airports in the wake of an attempt by a suspected Muslim extremist to blow up a plane bound for Detroit on December 25.”

The Guardian reports that the employee in question took a photo of Margetson’s image. Margetson, for her part, says she is traumatized by the incident.

Ironically, the incident was reported the same day the U.K. government declared privacy concerns surrounding the body scanners to be overstated, according to the Associated Press. In a statement, the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee said, “Air passengers already tolerate a large invasion. We do not feel that full body scanners add greatly to this situation.”

This is exactly the sort of situation opponents of the body scanners have feared. The machines leave little to the imagination—there’s really no debating that. But maintaining the boundary between security and voyeurism is solely dependent on the individual analyzing the images, and this incident shows just how easy it is for someone to tip the scales in one direction or another.

Readers, what do you think? Does this make you less comfortable with body scanners? Or is this just something travelers will need to put up with?

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