Technology

German Activists Protest Body Scanners by Stripping Down

DiscoblogBy Smriti RaoJan 13, 2010 5:23 PM

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The best way to make a point about privacy and "invasive" body scanners at the airport--is to strip down to your underwear and then publish that video to YouTube so the whole world can see you in your nearly naked glory. Might sound strange at first, but we are covering it in Discoblog, so I guess it worked. Warning: This video has mild nudity and so may be NSFW. German activists from the Pirate Party thought organizing a "fleshmob" of people to strip down to their skivvies and converge on the Berlin-Tegel airport was a great idea. The activists were protesting the use of what the Germans call the Nacktscanner, or naked scanner--a body scanner that may increasingly be used for airport security, in the wake of the botched underwear bombing on Christmas Day. As Wired reported:

The protesters marked their bodies with a number of messages such as, “Something to hide?” and “Be a good citizen — drop your pants.” One woman has the word “diaper” scrawled on her lower back with an arrow pointing to her underwear and the word “prosthetic” printed on her leg. The word “piercing” and an arrow point to one of her breasts. Another woman dressed in a beige sweater and flesh-colored tights wears a sign reading “pixelated.” (To address privacy concerns, security officials say the scanners can be programed to produce a blurred, pixelated image of passengers to protect their modesty.)

The full-body scanners work by using high frequency radio waves to produce an image of a passenger's naked body beneath clothes. So anything strapped to the body--explosives, drugs--would be exposed. But if you chuck something in a body cavity the scanner fails to detect that. The scanners have raised concerns about passengers' privacy, as pointed out by the semi-naked activists, but German authorities are pressing ahead with their plans to deploy them across the country's airports over the next two years. Related Content: 80beats: 5 Reasons Body Scanners May Not Solve Our Terrorism Problem 80beats: Are Digital Strip Searches Coming Soon To Every Airport Near You? 80beats: TSA Threatens Bloggers Who Published Security Info, Then Backs Off

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