Airport Body Scanning Leads to Anatomical Ridicule and Sexual Harassment

Posted on May 7, 2010

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(CNN) — Full-body scanning machines may reveal a little too much, if an incident of workplace violence this week among Transportation Security Administration screeners is any indication.

A TSA worker at Miami International Airport in Florida was arrested for allegedly assaulting a co-worker who had repeatedly teased him about the size of his genitals.

The insults stemmed from an X-ray of the accused captured during a training exercise with the airport’s full-body scanning machines, the report said.

Rolando Negrin “stated he could not take the jokes anymore and lost his mind,” allegedly striking the victim with a police baton. According to the report, a witness heard Negrin say in Spanish, “get on your knees or I will kill you and you better apoligise [sic].”

In response to the incident, TSA said it has a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence. “At the same time, we are investigating to determine whether other officers may have violated procedures in a training session with coworkers and committed professional misconduct,” the agency said in a statement.

The incident puts the spotlight back on technology some privacy advocates liken to a virtual strip search.

“As far as I’m concerned, this really demonstrates exactly how detailed the images are, exactly how invasive the search is,” said John Verdi, senior counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based research center specializing in civil liberties and privacy issues. It receives much of its funding from private foundations.

Verdi said the Miami incident “… also demonstrates that this technology, and the way it’s being implemented by TSA, is ripe for abuse.”

The TSA screener scuffle is not the only recent case of workplace tension involving the technology. A security worker at London’s Heathrow Airport allegedly made lewd comments about a female colleague who mistakenly entered a scanner, according to the UK’s Press Association. The accused worker was given a police warning for harassment. [more]

Related articles:

1. Does Full Body Scanning Violate Islamic Religious Rulings?

2. Pope issues statement vs. airport scanners, cites ‘human dignity’

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Posted in: Hijab, Islam