Opinion Brief

'National Opt-Out Day': Will a protest against body scanners work?

A privacy activist wants to send the government a message by convincing flyers to resist the "naked" security scanners at airports this Thanksgiving. Bad idea?

A privacy activist is urging Americans to protest new, full-body scanners at airports by insisting instead on time-consuming pat-downs during the busy Thanksgiving weekend. The Transportation Security Administration is pushing the technology — 1,000 of the scanners are scheduled to be in place by 2011 — to help combat terrorists, but critics say the scanners, which essentially let security personnel peer through clothing, are too invasive. Will "National Opt-Out Day" strike a blow for privacy, or just make air travel miserable for everyone this Thanksgiving? (Watch an NBC report about the new pat-downs)

Good idea, bad timing: There is no doubt that the new "naked" scans are "unapologetically intrusive," says Madeline Holler at Strollerderby. Even some pilots and flight attendants are joining the "revolt." But if too many protesters opt for the full-body pat-downs, it will take even longer for holiday travelers to get to their gates. There has to be a better way to protest.
"Will your family join the revolt against the TSA?"

The alternative to scanners is just as invasive: If everyone joined in on National Opt-Out Day, the TSA might be forced to reconsider its policies, say the editors of The Economist. But they won't. For one thing, the "groping" you'll get in the pat-down is every bit as creepy as being forced to give a "peep show" in the scanner.
"TSA pat-downs"

Naked scanners are not the enemy: This is silly — "we left liberty on the side of the road way back in the Bush Administration," says Rick Green at the Hartford Courant. And, frankly, these scans "do a better job of making me feel better about flying than the two waste-of-lives-and-money wars we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan." If everybody passes through the scanners, "at least I'll know the guy next to me doesn't have a toner cartridge packed with explosives."
"National Opt-Out Day — Will you say no to naked scanning?"

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