Yesterday, on the steps of City Hall, Councilman David G. Greenfield was joined by Council Members Gale Brewer, Fernando Cabrera, Debi Rose, Robert Jackson, Jumaane Williams, and Brad Lander in support of legislation that would ban the use of full body scanners in New York City, including New York’s two airports – JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.The Council Members were also joined by privacy expert Marc Rotenberg, a professor of law at Georgetown University and President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), who is leading a lawsuit to suspend the deployment of body scanners at US airports, pending an independent review.
Earlier this week, Councilman Greenfield proposed legislation to ban the use of full body scanners, also known as “naked body scanners,” in New York City. Passengers who pass through these scanners, which cost nearly $200,000 each, have clear images of their nude bodies displayed to a Transportation Safety Administration employee, which Homeland Security officials says make travel safer. However, leading international security experts disagree.
Israeli security experts have refused to install these scanners at BenGurion International Airport, which is widely hailed as the safest airport in the world. Rafi Sela, the former Chief Security Officer of the Israel Airport Authority, explained he could “overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to take down a Boeing 747.”
“The images produced by these naked body scanners are equivalent to the most intrusive strip search,” said Councilman Greenfield. “I am deeply troubled that we are subjecting New Yorkers to this humiliating process, which breaches their most basic privacy rights, when we don’t even have sufficient assurances that these scanners are more effective than other less intrusive methods.”
Marc Rotenberg, President of EPIC, agreed. “The TSA has shown a frightening disregard for the concerns of American travelers,” said Rotenberg.
“Councilmember David Greenfield and the other members of the New York City Council should be commended for their efforts to safeguard fundamental freedoms.” EPIC recently filed a lawsuit in Washington, DC to suspend the airport body scanner program after it uncovered evidence that the devices are designed to store and record images of air travelers.
“Sometimes it’s a fine line between privacy and safety concerns,” said Councilman Brad Lander. “These full body scanners are way over that line.”
Greenfield’s proposed legislation would ban these full body scanners from all New York City buildings, not just airports. In several cities around the United States, these full body scanners are used in government buildings. Most recently, it was discovered that US Marshalls at an Orlando, Florida federal courthouse saved over 35,000 nude images in their scanner.
“This is a dangerous precedent,” noted Councilman Greenfield. “First airports, now courthouses? What’s next, school buildings? After all, we already have metal detectors in some of New York’s public schools and the TSA is already routinely scanning minors in these full body scanners at airports. Our legislation would protect the safety of our children and the dignity of all New Yorkers. It is imperative that we stop any further invasion of New Yorkers’ privacy in its tracks,” Greenfield concluded.