US: 8 in 10 back 'naked' airport scans

2010-11-16 21:40
Washington - Americans overwhelmingly back the full-body scanners that produce graphic images of the body, which are being deployed in airports around the country, a poll published on Tuesday shows.

Eight in 10 Americans say airports should use the full-body X-ray machines that show the body, genitalia and all, the poll by CBS News shows.

A significant number (15%) are against the digital X-ray machines, which some rights groups have called an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, the poll said.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began rolling out full-body scanners at US airports in 2007, but stepped up deployment of the devices this year when stimulus funding made it possible to buy another 450 of the advanced imaging technology scanners.

Some 315 "naked" scanners are currently in use at 65 US airports, according to the TSA.

Pat-downs

Passengers and airline crew members, including pilots, are randomly selected to pass through the scanners. They have the option of refusing, but will then be subjected to what the TSA calls an "enhanced" manual search that includes a pat-down of a traveller's private parts.

Some air travellers have also refused the pat downs.

The stepped-up security measures are a reaction by the authorities to several thwarted attacks, including an attempt in December last year by a Nigerian man to detonate explosives hidden in his underpants on a flight that was about to land in Detroit.

A majority of Americans - 52% - said in the CBS poll that they are against racial profiling at airport security checkpoints.

That marked a reversal from January, a month after the thwarted "underpants bomber" attack, when 51% said ethnic profiling at airports was justified, the poll found.

More than 1 130 adults were interviewed last week by landline or cellphone for the poll, which has a margin of error of around 3%.

- SAPA
Read more on:    us  |  security  |  air travel
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