University of Maryland University College
Professor Ronald Smith
January 17, 2015
Biometric technology continues to be one of the most advantageous, yet invading innovations we have used today in businesses, airports, and organizations. While it can be extremely helpful to prevent a potential threat in an airport (using security scanners), or authorize employees in a business (through the use of voice, eye, or fingerprint authorization), biometric technology raises a lot of ethical concerns, especially those used in airports.
Charlotte Harwell wrote for the Globalising European Bioethics Education (GLEUBE), “Although security in airports and on board aircraft are of utmost importance in the aftermath of 9/11, and a number of attempted terrorist attacks, it could be said that governments have rushed into the use of these scanners without a second thought for some of the serious ethical concerns surrounding their use (Harwell, n.d.).” Security scanners prevent harmful weapons from passing through. This is great because it can stop an attacker, but for the other 1,000 + people, this is invasive and can be violating.
Security scanners in airports are like X-Rays in that they can see beneath clothing just in case the security agent spots any harmful materials that an attacker is planning to take on board. This is unsettling and an invasion of privacy to most passengers being scanned.
Another issue with these scanners is that they cannot detect chemicals or plastics, which basically lets attackers through, giving them a clear path to attack using liquids or chemicals.
These ethical issues have even made those with cultural traditions feel uncomfortable. Machines like X-Ray security scanners might make Islamic women, who wish to keep a discrete appearance, feel uncomfortable and violated.
Airport security scanners do stop attackers, but there are several ethical and moral issues that come with them. As technology develops and becomes more innovative, it will be imperative that we ensure safe and ethical solutions before it becomes a problem. For airport security scanners, this might be creating a piece of technology that only detects something (e.g., weapon or chemical)