TSA Looks at 'G-Rated' Body Scanners Amid International Security Headaches

Like other countries, TSA is using increasingly invasive security measures.

ByABC News
November 18, 2010, 4:00 PM

Nov. 19, 2010 — -- 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.