Security officials have been struggling to assure travelers that full-body scans at airports are completely private and that records are destroyed immediately. Those claims were undermined this week with allegations that airport employees copied and distributed pictures of Indian film star Shahrukh Khan in his naked body scanner at Heathrow. Just last week, UK Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said “it is very important to stress that the images which are captured by body scanners are immediately deleted after the passenger has gone through the body scanner.”
That is easy for a guy named Adonis to say. For the rest of us endomorphic slobs, the idea of full body scans being reviewed are enough to force you into a fetal position in the security line. Right is a picture of Adonis, which probably explains the lax concern over such copying of images.
Khan warned fans about the detail of the images: “I was in London recently going through the airport and these new machines have come up, the body scans. You’ve got to see them. It makes you embarrassed – if you’re not well endowed.”
Khan said that copies were made “I was a little scared. Something happens [inside the scans], and I came out. Then I saw these girls – they had these printouts. I looked at them. I thought they were some forms you had to fill. I said ‘give them to me’ – and you could see everything inside. So I autographed them for them.”
There has been no confirmation of the allegations, but here is a piece of advice for Khan: in the future, when presented with illicit pictures of yourself, do not autograph them for adoring security staff.
What will be fascinating is the possibility of litigation for such abuses once this technology is used in the United States. The scans raise serious privacy concerns without publication or distribution of the pictures. It could raise interesting questions of the Disclosure of Private Embarrassing Facts (not a reference to Khan’s concerns over his endowment) and intrusion upon seclusion. The person is revealing the image to security staff but under an understanding that only security staff would view the image briefly — much like a doctor’s observation.
I am personally concerned about security staff handing me a brochure for exercise equipment and gyms when I pass through. It was bad enough that I had to get rid of all of my socks with holes in them once they started making me take off my shoes (I am still convinced the shoe rule was a conspiracy by sock manufacturers to force people to purchase new socks).
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