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  • Public Opinion On Full-Body Scanners
    Posted by Andrew Compart 6:55 PM on Jan 11, 2010

    A new Gallup poll released today finds that most U.S. air travelers favor using a full-body scan on air travelers, and most would not be uncomfortable undergoing such a scan. But there are some gender gaps in those responses.

    The poll of 542 "regular air travelers," defined as those who have taken two or more trips in the past 12 months, found that 78% of them approve of the use of full-body scanners. The question that got that result tells respondents that the scan "would show a graphic image of a persons body underneath his or her clothes," but also that "the image would be viewed only by federal screeners in a separate, private room." The latter is the procedure the Transportation Security Administration is using with the screeners, as a way to address traveler privacy concerns.

    The poll also found that 67% of travelers would not be uncomfortable undergoing a full-body scan themselves. There is a gender gap on the response to that question, however: 74% for male travelers and 58% for female travelers. Female travelers were also twice as likely to be "very uncomfortable" with undergoing such a screening: 15%, compared to 7% for men.

    That shouldn't be very surprising, but the interesting thing here is how that affects -- or does not affect -- the support for use of the screening device. While there is a gap in the approval, its just a seven-point difference: 81% v. 74%. Another finding in the poll may suggest why: 84% of all the respondents said the scans would be effective at preventing terrorists from smuggling explosives or other dangerous objects onto planes.

    UPDATE: I checked with Gallup, and there was essentially no difference between male and female travelers (85% and 83%, respectively) on whether the scans would be effective. The only difference is that 42% of male travelers thought they would be "very effective," compared to 33% of female travelers. Any theories out there as to why female travelers would be a little bit more skeptical?

    Tags: tw99, security, body, scanners

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