Public outrage over new full-body scanners that passengers must walk through at U.S. airports has prompted a grassroots protest — National Opt-Out Day — which will take place Wednesday, on one of the busiest flying days of the year.
Instead of submitting to a scan, organizers are asking all passengers to request a pat-down by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent. Because of the high volume of travelers, such an action likely would cause massive delays which organizers say might cause the TSA to rethink the procedure.
According to the organizers' Web site, people should arrive early at airports to allow for the expected increase in pat-downs.
The Web site states, “There is no intent or desire to delay passengers en route to friends and family over Thanksgiving. People also need to remember to stay within the confines of the law and the regulations of TSA when exercising their right to a pat down. Passengers, please note there has been at least one report of long delay for people who take the TSA up on their offer to opt out of the naked body scanners, so please keep that in mind when planning your airport arrival time.”
It adds, “We want families to sit around the dinner table, eating turkey, talking about their experience — what constitutes an unreasonable search, how forceful of a pat down will we allow on certain areas of our body, and that of our children, and how much privacy are we will (sic) to give up for flying? We hope the experience then propels people to write their Member of Congress and the airlines to demand change … the government should not have the ability to virtually strip search anyone it wants without cause.”
Concerns about the scanners — technically known as backscatter X-ray machines — include that they constitute an invasion of privacy and that the ionizing radiation they use pose a health hazard.
A Zogby International Poll released today found that 61 percent of respondents oppose the new security procedures; 48 percent prefer to seek an alternative means of transportation because of the scanners; 52 percent think the new security procedures won't prevent terrorist activity; 48 percent consider it a violation of privacy rights; and 32 percent consider it to be sexual harassment.
Zogby polled 2,032 likely voters between Nov. 19-22. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percent.
Here's an interesting graphic that examines how U.S. airport security has evolved over the years.