TSA hopeful scanners in place sometime in 2011
by Josh Hinkle / KXAN.COM
Source: Commission opposes ABIA body scanners
AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin’s Airport Advisory Commission approved a resolution on Tuesday night advising the city council to oppose airport body scanners and invasive body searches.
The Transportation Security Administration said it is hopeful advanced imaging technology or “body scanners” will be in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport sometime next year. Already, March has been thrown out as a possibility, though the TSA said it would likely be late 2011 or even 2012.
“I think people in the United States area little bit spoiled, I think, to quick travel and having everything instantaneous,” said Paula Tye, on her way to a flight to Orlando.
Tye flies out of Austin on business every three weeks to many cities that already have body scanners for extra security. The TSA said 70 airports already have the devices.
“It’s like an upright tanning bed actually,” Tye said. “They just scan you, and it really takes two seconds. It’s not very long at all. You step out and you’re done.”
Along with radiation concerns, critics said the machines don’t work as well as proponents would like. There are also groups like Texans for Accountable Government saying it is an invasion of privacy.
“What we need to do is let them know it is not acceptable in Austin,” said TAG’s Heather Fazio. We don’t have body scanners here. We don’t want body scanners here. We don’t need them here.”
That group was among many people testifying before the commission, trying to convince members to oppose the scanners. In the past, TAG has put up privacy fights against the APD blood draw program, private data concerns at Austin’s Fusion Center, and even accountability for toll roads.
Beyond the commission, TAG is planning to meet with Austin City Council members on Friday to further discuss the issue. The group is also planning a protest in the airport terminal on Saturday.
Tye said people who do not like the scanners might just have to live with them. Regardless of any resolutions passed by the commission or city Council, the TSA has the final say.
“I like to think it makes things safer, so we do all we can do. And I hope that’s enough,” Tye said.
ABIA has not yet received the scanners, because some thought they might be too heavy for the floors there. The TSA said a new report, set for release next month, shows the machines are actually lighter than originally thought.