A married mother was subjected to repeated body scanning at an airport after being told by one of the employees that she had a 'cute' figure.
Ellen Terrell, who was travelling with her husband Charlie, was stopped by airport security and told she had been "randomly selected" for screening by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Ellen, from Dallas, Texas, believes that she was exploited and felt "totally exposed" for the benefit of male employees viewing the scanned images, which give a detail image of the naked body, in a back room.
According to CBS 11, one of the female employees asked her if she played tennis She said no and asked why she was being asked this question. "You just have such a cute figure," the Daily Mail quoted the airport worker as saying. Mrs Terrell, who is an IT executive, was then asked to stand in the full body scanner for a second time at Dallas International Airport.
After being made to stand in the machine, which uses radiation, for a third time, Ellen heard the female employee say into her microphone "guys, it is not blurry, I'm letting her go." The Terrells believe that she was subjected to sexual harassment - and they are not alone in their worries. The passenger screening program at airports has had frequent complaints that not all passengers are screened in the same way.
In reaction to this, the TSA has replaced the machines, which give a detailed outline of individuals' figures for a more generic shape. More than 600 Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) units have now been installed at 140 airports across the U.S. On the updated machine, the passenger and the TSA worked both view the image together, which lights up on screen if it detects a problem. The need for a separate TSA officer viewing the image in another room is no longer required.
"The new images are very generic and really focus on the privacy of the passenger. They see the same image as the staff," a spokeswoman for TSA said. The images of passengers are not stored or print and cannot be transmitted. They are deleted from the system once they have been viewed. Those who fly are not required by law to pass through AIT screening - but if they opt out, they will receive alternative screening, including a physical pat-down. Ellen did not file a complaint because she didn't realise that she could.
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