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Readers Give Thumbs-Down to New Body Scanners

In a recent poll, SmarterTravel readers gave a thumbs-down to those new controversial body scanners being tested by the TSA. 52 percent of you said “No, thanks,” to the new scanners, which create grayscale images of passengers’ bodies beneath their clothes. 33 percent approved of the scanners, which, while invasive, are effective at detecting concealed liquids and other non-metals, meaning the TSA’s current liquids ban could become unnecessary. 15 percent are not yet sure what they think.

Interestingly, people were split on our next question: “If given the option of traditional metal detectors with a potential pat-down or these new scanners, which would you choose?” 41 percent of respondents chose the metal detector, while 40 percent opted for the new scanners. 18 percent of you said, “Maybe I’ll take the train next time.”

I think these numbers pretty much speak for themselves, and reflect the conflict between safety and privacy the new scanners create. Clearly, SmarterTravel readers are put off by the idea of revealing body-imaging technology, but when it comes to choosing between the new method and the old one, it’s an even split. Is that representative of general security-measure fatigue? After all, over the last few years we’ve taken our shoes off, purchased three-ounce bottles for our shampoo, and submitted to pat-downs even after clearing the metal detector. Perhaps passengers are simply tired of putting up a fight, or maybe people feel the benefit of better security outweighs the cost of reduced privacy. This is all something to ponder another time, but feel free to weigh in below.

As for me, I think I’ll pass on the new technology as long as I have the choice (or at least until I can hit the gym).

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