Day of reckoning for TSA protocol

Just in time for the peak travel season, passengers are rebelling against airport security.

The day before Thanksgiving has been designated National Opt-Out Day, a call to action by Brian Sodegren to put an end to the Transportation Security Administration’s scanner screenings. He is encouraging travelers to protest the full-body scanners by opting out and then refusing the alternative pat-downs.

“The goal of National Opt-Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change,” Sodegren wrote on OptOutDay.com. “We do not believe the government has a right to see you naked or aggressively touch you just because you bought an airline ticket.”

According to the TSA, there are 385 imaging units at 68 airports, but by the end of 2011 the number of machines is expected to increase to 1,000.

The purpose of the technology is to detect explosive devices under clothing. Those who refuse the scanner are required to undergo a pat-down, which is a security measure that has existed for years.

But now, the pat-downs are no longer conducted by TSA agents using the back of their hands. The security measure has been “enhanced,” allowing agents to use open hands and fingers to touch any body parts of passengers.

In a Nov. 11 website posting, the TSA said, “There’s nothing punitive about it — it just makes good security sense. And the weapons and other dangerous and prohibited items we’ve found during pat-downs speak to this.”

But for Sodegren, this goes too far.

“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,’” he wrote.

Activism against the enhanced security measures is on the rise.

WeWontFly.com urges airline passengers to “Jam TSA checkpoints by opting out until they remove the porno-scanners.”

Concern for privacy is not the only issue surrounding the scanners. Some scientists argue that too little research has been conducted on the possible health effects of the small doses of X-ray radiation emitted by the technology.

In an April letter to John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s assistant of science and technology, a group of UC San Francisco researchers raised concerns about possible overexposure to the breasts, testicles and epidermis from the concentrated dose of radiation.

The TSA said the machines are safe and have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Staff Writer Kamala Kelkar contributed to this report.

Hazards in question

UCSF researchers say health concerns with the TSA scanners that have not been fully evaluated include:

  • Long-term effects
  • Cornea and thymus exposure
  • Effects on children

Possible risks:

  • Premature aging
  • Damage to breast tissue
  • Damage to sperm, skin, tissue

 

Source: UCSF

Bay Area NewsLocalSan FranciscoSan Francisco International AirportTransittransportation

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police Chief Bill Scott on Wednesday said a rebranding and reoganization of the former Gang Task Force amounts to “more than just the name change.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faced with surge in shootings, Chief Scott reenvisions SFPD’s Gang Task Force

New Community Violence Reduction Team adds officers with community-policing experience

Stores including Walgreens and Safeway are required to pay their employees additional hazard pay under a city ordinance that is currently set to expire later this month. (Shutterstock)
Grocery workers could gain additional weeks of $5 per hour hazard pay

San Francisco will vote next week on whether to extend a law… Continue reading

The fatal shooting of San Francisco resident Roger Allen by Daly City police on April 7 prompted protests in both cities. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Daly City approves body-worn and vehicle cameras for police after fatal shooting

Daly City officials on Wednesday approved body and vehicle cameras for police… Continue reading

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

Most Read