The widespread implementation of new scanning equipment in airports across the country has both passengers and pilots in uproar this holiday season.
The new backscatter scanner device uses several different types of waves including x-rays to create an image portraying the subject essentially nude, with any concealed weapon revealed, CNN.com reported. Passengers or pilots concerned about privacy or health who choose to opt out of the service are subjected to an "enhanced pat-down" including the use of fingers and open hands to feel objector's chests and groins, Wired News reports.
David Brenner, a professor of radiation biophysics, has told CNN that the risk of backscatter scans hurting subjects is very low, but that's not enough to satiate those who fly most frequently - pilots. Two separate pilot unions have sent out letters to all of their members advising them to decline the full-body scans, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Concerned passengers plan to stand up against such invasive practices with a 'National Opt Out day' to take place on the busiest day of air travel in the United States, November 24th. Brian Sodegren, creator of the event, told Wired "You should never have to explain to your children, 'Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it's a government employee, then it's OK.'"
Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano met with industry officials on Friday to reinforce the commitment to allowing passengers their privacy while maintaining strict security in airports, CNN reported. The officials said that the meeting was informative, but the department's activities have left a lot up in the air.