About Those Full-Body Scanners ...

In the wake of a Nigerian man's failed attempt to blow up a flight over Detroit on Christmas Day with explosives hidden in his underwear, government officials, especially in Europe, now want full-body scanners to screen all passengers before flights.

Many are still debating the pros -- namely that they can spot the tools Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly snuck in before they get on the plane, cutting off al-Qaeda's best route of attack -- and the cons -- which range from privacy concerns to the idea that the scanners, a response to the latest attempt, will be outdated by the time terrorists institute the new plans they're probably already dreaming up.

But the New Scientist tells us that there's a problem -- the devices aren't quite ready for use everywhere:

Their efforts could be stymied by the fact that the scanner technology has not yet been certified as fit for purpose by national governments – and manufacturers will not invest in mass production until it has.

So says Colin McSeveny, a spokesman for Smiths Detection of Watford, UK, which makes millimetre-wave body scanners. "Politicians like Gordon Brown want to get a move on, but these technologies are still in trials. They are not ready yet.

Body-scanner approvals are on the agenda at a meeting of British officials today, the New Scientist says.

--Monica Potts

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