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Skip the Nudie Scanner, Get Extra Frisking as Punishment

There are some people who have reported extra screening and scrutiny of their person and personal belongings when they refuse to engage in the TSA nudie scanner fiasco.

I went over to the TSA blog to see what the climate was and the responses are overwhelmingly against the technology.

From the complaints that have been coming in, it seems to be common practice for TSA to send people through the machines without telling them what they do or offering them a choice. How does anyone think that this is OK?


Bob, why would the TSA use backscatter at all when MMW is much less risky in terms of exposure to harmwave wavelengths.

There were other issues listed such as the scanning of children nude and the right to ask that your belongings always remain in your sight while they're being analyzed (which is only useful if you know about that right).

I once met the head of privacy for the TSA, Peter P., and got his contact information. I just sent him an e-mail suggesting that the only way that it would be ethical to use these machines is to:

  1. Post on the machine actual, unedited, unblurred photos of real people being scanned.
  2. Verbally tell each person to be scanned that they may opt-out every time

I don't know if he'll respond or what he'll say, but expect they won't do either of these because if they did, people would probably never use them at all. But that's the point isn't it? We should know exactly what's going to happen and be able to make an informed choice.

Anyway, if he does respond, I'll post it here.


It's really quite surprising how quickly he responded. Not more than 2 hours after my e-mail, I received a phone call where he answered my questions.

He says there are already images on all machines that are exactly what the operators see, just not life sized though he didn't know why that matters to people. In fact, some people have complained about the nudity on the signs (which I expected would happen, but we don't care about them do we :)).

There are also indications that you can choose to have a pat down in the largest font of all text on the machine. I can't really say if that's sufficient considering I haven't seen the machines personally, though I doubt a simple sign is enough unless it's a pretty big font.

He says a verbal notice would add too much time and present it more as a negative thing when it wasn't (a matter of opinion) and he's right about that so I didn't expect much. The main thing is how the operators act in practice. If someone seems hesitant, they should immediately offer the pat-down instead, but do they?

On the subject of how people are treated when refusing the scan, he said that it's impossible to monitor that process, but they are trained not to do extra screening just because someone opted-out. He also pointed out that at last year's CFP Conference a woman who claimed to have been subjected to nearly 20 minutes of screening was actually only there for less than 3 (they checked the video). He said perception plays a large part and I can't disagree with that.

What is fact is that people are frustrated and angry. We don't trust that the machines won't be misused and there's at least one case where they already were. Is there anything the TSA could do to win our trust? Who' knows, but here's the page where they have all the information about the machines and how they're used.

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1 Comment to “Skip the Nudie Scanner, Get Extra Frisking as Punishment”

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This is just the next step, they removed the shoes because of the shoe bomber and now clothes because of underwear bomber. Talked about here at wadeammon.com/blog too. TSA is just reactionary not forward thinking at all.

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