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The Naked Crowd by Jeffrey Rosen

- Abstract

Sneak and Peek The Naked Crowd: Reclaiming Security and Freedom in an Anxious Age by Jeffrey Rosen
Random House. 272 pp. $24.95
Reviewed by Jonathan Kay

Shortly after 9/11, OrlandoInternational Airport in Florida tested a new security device that produced detailed, three-dimensional images of travelers and their possessions. Like the supposedly X-ray eyeglasses that used to be advertised in the back of comic books, the machine saw right through clothing. It turned the parade of passengers into a continuous, high-tech striptease.

The nudity, it turned out, was unnecessary. With a few programming tweaks, researchers were able to produce a prototype that, unlike the “naked machine,” projected the images of hidden objects onto sexless cartoon figures. This “blob machine,” writes Jeffrey Rosen, the legal-affairs editor of the New Republic, offered the best of both worlds: the same level of security with none of the attendant invasiveness and humiliation.

About the Author

Jonathan Kay is managing editor for comment at Canada’s National Post.