National Opt-Out Day

By | Category: Travel rumblings

This isn’t a British or an Irish day of action but an American one. A week today “they” are asking people who fly to refuse or opt-out of going through a body scanner. Wednesday next week is supposed to be the busiest day of the year as it is the day before US thanksgiving. So the hold-ups at security, if people request pat-down searches instead of the body scanners, could produce some lengthy queues.
What’s behind this day of action? Is it because people object to the time it takes; a feeling that it is an over-the-top reaction by authorities, a privacy issue or merely a belief that the scanners are inefficient? It seems that it is largely a question of privacy mingled with health issues but the language used by some of the supporters is getting emotive.
One blogger has suggested that this is another revolution along the lines of the Tea Party theme. Certainly the US government hasn’t managed to keep the images from the machines confidential as some regularly turn up on various websites. That has caused anxiety amongst the privacy lobby. But these images have now been claimed to be akin to porn. One website, goes as far as to say the pat downs “could feel like sexual assault.” Another group claims it gives you a greater likelihood of contracting cancers. Yet another says that since you can have nothing in your pockets as you go through the scanner, this is a thief’s charter and notes that 4 employees from New York’s JFK Airport have been gaoled for theft. One newspaper has even pointed out that there will be many Americans returning from the Hajj on that day although why that matters is beyond me.
Whatever your view, it has caused lots of internet chatter with nearly 3,000 articles or comments being posted in the last week or so as the momentum builds. The man behind it all, Brian Sodegren, wants everyone to have a pat down search in full public view perhaps in the belief that the officials will not be as invasive as they might be in a private room.
So next Wednesday, I happen to be flying back from the US. I’ll let you know on Thursday what happened, – always provided I’m not still in a security queue waiting to be scanned or patted!

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