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nov 17 2010

Airport scanners: Will you join National Opt-Out Day?

Image from a protest poster. (Courtesy National Opt-Out Day)

Complaints about full-body scans and pat-downs at the airport are getting louder. Fliers are now faced with the question: Would you rather have your naked body stared at or your entire body groped?

Nov. 4 The TSA changed its pat-down procedures nationwide to a grabbier, front-of-the-hand method. The new tactic includes an agent running his or her hand along the inside of your leg. Any passenger who refuses to go through a body scanner, or so-called "nude-o-scope," must receive a pat-down with a same-gender agent. But you may ask for it to be done out of public view.

Nov. 1 Two of the largest pilot unions urged their members to refuse to walk through full-body scans when they go to work. Their fear? "Additional radiation exposure"—despite government assurances on the latter.

Nov. 12 A three-year old boy was patted down by a TSA agent, and it was caught on film. The boy thought it was a game, so no tears were shed. But many people were outraged, and an old video of a 3-year old girl bawling during a TSA pat-down resurfaced online.

Today, Nov. 17 TSA changes policy: No more "enhanced pat-downs for children.

Today TSA chief John Pistole testified before Congress, insisting that the technology is not only safe, it is vital to aviation security and a critical measure to thwart potential terrorist attacks. He added that the TSA uses rigorous privacy safeguards with its full-body scanners. For instance, the officer viewing the naked scans never interacts with passengers, and the officer helping passengers never sees the scans.

Looking ahead An online group is drumming up interest in making next Wednesday, Nov. 24, National Opt-Out Day to protest the use of body scan devices. If popular, the protest could slow down airport traffic on the day before Thanksgiving—the busiest day of the year. optoutday.com and flywithdignity.org.

What's your view? Do you prefer full-body scans or enhanced pat downs?

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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