As of last week the TSA will be implementing new pat-down methods for passengers who opt-out of the controversial back-scatter scanners. These new methods including using the palm of the hand to grope the breasts, hind-quarters, and crotch of the passenger. This is the same TSA I might add, that has caught a grand total of zero terrorists. I have no doubt in my mind that these invasive and wholly unnecessary procedures have been implemented entirely for the purpose of discouraging passengers from opting out of the back-scatter scanner.
However we have very good reason to avoid those scanners, a number of them in fact. Namely there is the fear that these scanners are not entirely safe. To quote a joint letter by Drs. John Sedat, Marc Shuman, David Agard, and Robert Shroud:
The X-ray dose from these devices has often been compared in the media to the cosmic
ray exposure inherent to airplane travel or that of a chest X-ray. However, this
comparison is very misleading: both the air travel cosmic ray exposure and chest Xrays
have much higher X-ray energies and the health consequences are appropriately
understood in terms of the whole body volume dose. In contrast, these new airport
scanners are largely depositing their energy into the skin and immediately adjacent
tissue, and since this is such a small fraction of body weight/vol, possibly by one to two
orders of magnitude, the real dose to the skin is now high.
Beyond the health concerns and the fact that these devices are used to create a nude image of your body (who needs privacy) is the fact that security experts say these devices are completely useless.
I don’t know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747,” – Rafi Sela former chief security officer of the Israel Airport Authority
Just remember that in the end, it’s all theater. Your choice to opt out is merely a form of audience participation in this silly choose-your-own-adventure game. They may call attention to “the opt-outee”, but hey, it’s part of the role you get to play. I’d rather be groped for a minute than doused with radiation in order to obtain an image of my naked body which has the potential to be stored. What a marvelous age we live in. Who needs the 4th amendment anyway?