Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tortured logic from Slate

I liked where I thought this was going, but then it went exactly where I expect Slate to go. Back up the government everytime:
... The monitor next to you, which supposedly eliminates secrecy by showing you what the TSA officer sees, will show you nothing. And yet, your naked body has just been scanned. So the monitor isn't showing you what TSA has seen. It's showing you what the TSA officer is seeing. And those two things are now different, thanks to the new "Automated Target Recognition" software. The job of scrutinizing your naked body has been taken away from human beings and reassigned to computers.
The original version of privacy, before airport scanners, was that nobody could see you naked as long as you wore clothes. When TSA introduced scanners, that understanding of privacy was replaced by a new version based on anonymity: One TSA officer could see the contours of your naked body, and another could see your face, but neither officer could connect the two. Now comes a third version of privacy, based on automation: Your naked body will be carefully scrutinized, but only by a machine. Unless, that is, you trigger the scanner's detection alert, in which case the part of your body where the threat was detected "will require additional screening" by a TSA officer, possibly including a pat-down.
Does the automation of scan analysis eliminate your discomfort? If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? If you're scanned through your clothes, and no human being is there to view the image, have you been rendered naked?
I'd say no. I'd say Automated Target Recognition is the end of naked scanning. ...