Critics have blasted the Transportation Security Administration for putting passengers through graphic body scanners and enhanced pat-downs -- but technology and political pressure may move American scanners in a more G-rated direction even as foreign countries are getting more invasive.
The TSA is testing new X-ray technology that will show a "stick figure" instead of a passenger's full-body image. Viewers on the other end of the X-ray would see anomalies -- anything from a suicide vest to a cell phone on a belt clip -- highlighted on the anatomically-ambiguous figure.
No images were available to illustrate what the new scan would look like.
But despite the debate over body searches and scans here in America -- illustrated by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, introducing the American Traveler Dignity Act Wednesday to protect against "physical and emotional abuse" at the hands of TSA employees -- the United States is not the only country employing unpopular security methods.
Canada installed full-body scanners at 16 major airports this past January, which also is when it started aggressive pat-downs with airport officials running hands inside pants waistbands.
Just this week, the Canadian Arab Foundation accused officials at Toronto's Pearson International Airport of racially profiling Yemini citizens and Arabs for secondary checks.
Over in Europe, London's Heathrow Airport has been using body scanners for the last eight months as part of a pilot program.
Nearby countries, security experts say, also are looking into body scanners.
"Europe is certainly looking into the way the technology is being implemented in the U.S.," said Rafi Ron, CEO of New Age Security, a security consulting firm. "I think we can expect sometime soon similar technology [will] be another European standard."
For those who think airport security in the United States is a hassle, try flying out of Tel Aviv sometime. International security experts, including guests from the U.S., were given a rare glimpse of Israel's procedures on Tuesday.
Security measures at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport are near-legendary: Unmanned vehicles secure the runway, cameras scan license plates and check them against a database of suspicious vehicles, 700 closed-circuit cameras monitor the main terminal and trash cans are bomb-proof.
The stringent airport security is the result of a string of Palestinian attacks on Israeli planes in the 1970s.
Israel prides itself on its security, and is unapologetic about its method of profiling -- separating high-risk passengers for more detailed checks. Passengers of Arab descent or with Arab-sounding names almost always are flagged as high-risk.
"I think that the Israeli solution has been proven successful for the last 40 years," said Ron, also a former chief of security at Ben Gurion airport. "There's a very clear record of success for this risk-based policy that is implemented by Israel."
Passengers are thrown into a marathon of security hurdles in Tel Aviv. Cars are stopped at the airport perimeter gates, where high-risk passengers often get pulled over for questioning.
Once inside the terminal, passengers line up for screening by airport security staff. All passengers are asked where they come from, where they live, where they've been, who they've spoken to, and who they've met.