Picture of female and male scanner images from a 2009 TSA blog post.
The uproar over full-body screenings and enhanced pat-downs at airports appears to have swelled more among the general public than within the business world: Only 27 percent of business travelers responding to a survey said they oppose the Transportation Security Administration’s tightened airline-security procedures.
“Business-travel professionals are adopting a wait-and-see attitude toward these new measures,” said Mike McCormick, executive director of the National Business Travel Association, which conducted the survey of 934 professionals.
Business travelers are likely to feel the effects of the commotion over privacy concerns on Nov. 24 – the busiest travel day of the year, when a slew of Americans plan to boycott full-body scans as part of National Opt-Out Day. That demonstration, which will force TSA workers to pat down everyone who declines to be scanned, is predicted to hold up security lines and create delays at airports.
McCormick said of business travelers: “They are realistic about the threats to our aviation system and understand the TSA’s remit to protect the traveling public. However, they are also concerned about security measures that may add delays and disruptions to an already challenging travel security process.”
Brian Sodergren of Ashburn, Va., created OptOutDay.com in early November to promote the one-day protest urging Americans to refuse scans. He is encouraging people to say, “I opt out,” when asked to go through the scanners and instead submit to a thorough pat-down in front of other travelers. The pat-downs take longer to administer than scans, which could set back travelers on their way to Thanksgiving gatherings.
“Hopefully the current outcry … from the pilots, the flight attendants, and now the flying public will instigate a change to effective security measures that keep the privacy of U.S. citizens intact,” wrote Sodergren on OptOutDay.com.
More than half (54 percent) of the survey’s respondents said they support the TSA’s security measures. Nineteen percent neither support nor oppose them.
Corporate and securities lawyer Arina Shulga is among the critics, some of whom are calling the body scans “virtual strip searches.”
“Have you seen those pictures? On one hand, I understand that security concerns are paramount, but am doubtful that the scanners will be sufficiently successful,” said Shulga, a partner at Fridman Law Group who blogs about business law.
Shulga plans to fly out of New York City Nov. 28 for a vacation in the Dominican Republic. “I am glad I will not be traveling on Nov. 24, as I expect there to be major delays,” the attorney said.
Business traveler Tameka McDonald of St. Petersburg, Fla., is okay with the TSA’s procedures.
“As technology progresses, there should be an expectation of airport security progression as well. Body scans are somewhat invasive, but as long as they’re done quickly and discreetly, I personally wouldn’t have any major issues with it,” McDonald told BusinessNewsDaily.
She also predicts National Opt-Out Day could cause a lot of “unnecessary chaos” and time snarls.
“We should always stand for or against what we believe in,” she said, “but we must also be conscious of how our actions may affect others.”
The TSA began using full-body scanners in 2007. According to the agency's website, 68 airports have these units utilizing advanced-imaging technology.
“TSA protects passenger privacy by ensuring the person operating the unit never sees the passenger’s image and the officer viewing the image never sees the passenger,” the TSA video below explains. “All images are immediately deleted and cannot be printed, stored or transmitted. In addition, a privacy filter is applied to blur all images to protect the passenger’s identity.”
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