A Step to Enhance Airport Security
“It would be very unpleasant to go through a full-body scanner if it is required to do so.” This is what a DU student, Bo-ram Lee, said about a full body scanner operation. A large number of people feel anxious about full-body scanners according to Lee. However, the Ministry relieves passengers concerns and anxiety with a careful explanation of the full body scanners.
On July 1st, the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) announced that it will start running full-body scanners at key airports in Korea beginning in July. These locations will be in Jeju, Incheon, Gimpo, and Gimhae airports. “It was inevitable to introduce the full body scanner operation due to a new type of possible terrorist attack in Korea.” Han Byung Sun, a man in charge of the air security department in MLTM, said.
Korean Aviation College professor, Jung Hoon, however, pointed out two problems of full body scanners. One is invasion of one’s privacy and a violation of human rights. The other one is health related. Jung said that “other ways of security checks should be made which cause no harm to passengers. Radiation emitted from a full body scanner will permeate through the skin and will cause health problems.”
The MLTM, however, announces that they are going all out to operate a safe full body scanner for passengers. The ministry has proved that the amount of electromagnetic waves to use the full body scanner is 1/10,000 of one time use of a cell phone. It is not as harmful compared to what we already do to our bodies.
Full body scanners will safely be operated by protecting human rights as well. Only specific passengers will go through the full body scanner, not every passenger, said Han. “The specific passengers are the people who had been named by the National Intelligence Agency and people who have raised fear about flight and passenger safety.” He also added that “pregnant women, infants, young children, patients and the disabled will be exempt from a full body scanner operation.”
Han mentioned about an incident in the United States. The case was about a Nigerian terrorist who tried to blow up a plane with explosives which he hid in his underwear and a pat down search did not detect the explosives. Han said “the newest security check equipment is certainly needed in Korea to prevent this kind of incident beforehand.”
Another big concern is the invasion of privacy issue. The full body scanner scans one’s body and detects harmful articles such as ceramic knives and weapons, powder, liquid, and explosives, but a full body scanner blurs out a passenger’s face and key parts of the body so that the equipment will not be able to scan one’s naked body. Han mentioned that “passengers, who refuse to go through full body scanners, will receive a pat down search instead.”
Furthermore, the Ministry has a separate image analysis room so that a control officer cannot see the passengers. This will protect the passenger’s identity form being exposed. Passengers will receive image analysis from the same gender officer. This is also one way to prevent a violation of human rights. In addition, an investigator in an analysis room cannot possess cell phones, cameras, or any photographing equipment. Han added that “CCTV will be installed in the image analysis room, so an investigator can be closely watched for 24 hours from a security control room.”
Han mentioned about other airports’ security systems in foreign countries. The United States installed a full body scanner and is in operation in the main international airports in New York, Miami, Baltimore, Denver, and Japan.
There is also a punishment for abuse of full body scanners. If a scanned image is leaked to the outside or an operator sees through the human body, he/she will receive a criminal penalty for violation of the National Human Rights law article 45. The sentence for this will be at most three years or 10 million won in fines under the law of protection of privacy. Han added that “if he or she is an employee of a company, that company will take a disciplinary action, expulsion, dismissal, or suspension according to the company rules.”
The full body scanner will eliminate passenger’s displeasure that was caused by the pat down search, it will shorten the search time as well. Most of all, full body scanners can detect hidden harmful articles as their main purpose. Lastly, Han said that “the Ministry will put forth every effort to protect passengers’ life and safety, and it will try to avoid problems concerning the privacy of passengers.” It is important that passengers accept the full body scanner operation to make flying safer. Stricter laws must also be\ made in order to prevent the abuse of full body scanners problems beforehand.
Noh Yoo-ra firstname.lastname@example.org
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