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New Airport Body Scanners Could Reveal More About You Than You Realize

TSA scanner at the Vegas airport
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

If you think airport security screenings are already too invasive, you probably won’t like this.

Within the next couple of years, the Department of Homeland Security will begin using laser-based molecular scanners at airports and border crossings. And what they reveal could surprise you.

The laser is reportedly 10 million times faster and a million times more sensitive than any scanning system currently in use, and it can detect not only trace amounts of drugs or gun powder on your clothes, but also the contents of your stomach and how much adrenaline is in your bloodstream.

What’s more, it can do all this from as much as 164 feet away, without you even knowing about it.

The Canadian company that invented the scanner, Genia Photonics, already has 30 patents on the technology. And its uses go beyond security — the portable devices can also identify individual cancer cells in a real-time scan of a patient and detect trace amounts of harmful chemicals in sensitive manufacturing processes.

But privacy advocates are alarmed, with a writer from Gizmodo posing several questions, including, “If you unknowingly stepped on the butt of someone’s [marijuana] joint and are carrying a sugar-sized grain of cannabis … will you be arrested?”


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