The Importance of Body Scans Use and Invasive Pat-Downs for Passengers’ Safety

Terrorism is one of the most terrible threats to modern society. Most terrorist attacks usually happen in heavily crowded places: airports, railroad stations, shopping centers, etc. Certainly, there is no opportunity to prevent such attacks everywhere, but airports and railroad stations are key places for establishing increased standards of safety. Therefore, such places are equipped with specialized scans for screening of passengers and personal carry-on items. Invasive pat-downs are also used in case of different problems with scans, or if a person declines the procedure of scanning for various reasons. Some people think that such safety measures violate basic human rights and should be banned. Nevertheless, use of body scans (or invasive pat-downs, in some specific situations) is extremely important to ensure passenger safety.

One of the most important advantages of the body scanning device is that it gives people an opportunity to avoid undressing and physical contact. The air carrier’s security officer may see only the image of the person’s body (either alternate-wavelength or merely a cartoon-like one, depending on the type of particular device) on the display (Kitou, 2014). Moreover, the display should not be visible to other passengers, and in the majority of cases, it is located in a separate room so that even the security officer cannot see the face of this person. Hence, privacy rights are not violated in this case.

Another advantage of body scan use is that this technique of screening is fast. The full body scan needs only fifteen seconds to get the image of a particular person and transfer it to the display. Certainly, it is very important for such overcrowded places as airports, especially if a person hastes to his or her flight. Moreover, this device is able to detect different objects, even non-metal, unlike metal detectors used before. It means that the reliability rate of a body scan is better, and it is more appropriate to ensure passenger safety in airports and railway stations than metal detectors do (Miller & Cross, 2013).

The last but not the least reason for full-body scans is that this procedure is still optional. Some people are against of body scanning due to the affirmation that it is bad for health. However, all full-body scanners can be divided into two big groups: millimeter wave machines and backscatter X-ray ones. Both technologies are widespread all over the world and have a great efficiency. Although some passengers doubt whether this procedure is harmful for health or not, there is no conclusive evidence of any harms for health it may cause. Moreover, if a passenger declines this procedure due to some problems with health or any other personal reasons, it is always possible to have usual invasive pat-down (Hunter, 2010).

Certainly, it is always important to remember about human rights and provide people with a freedom of choice in different situations. However, provision of security and counterterrorism efforts are more important because these measures are aimed at caring about many people. Therefore, the use of body scanning or invasive pat-downs as the alternative is necessary while there are no any other efficient techniques and methods to prevent terrorist attacks. Moreover, passengers have a relative freedom of choice between scanning and a usual pat-down, and it is the best variant in the conditions of the looming danger of terrorist attacks. Everybody should place their safety and safety of other attendees of public places as a personal priority, which is an effective means of dealing with terrorism.


Hunter, M. (2010). Scans and pat-downs: what you should know. CNN. Retrieved from
Kitou, D. (2014). Privacy-invading technologies and privacy by design: safeguarding privacy, liberty, and security in the 21st century. New York, NY: Springer.
Miller, R. L., & Cross, F. B. (2013). Essentials of the legal environment. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

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