Air Cover: The TSA’s New Body Scanner Rules

TSA has announced the agency is revising its rules for full body scanners. When TSA first installed airport body scanners, the agency stated passengers would have the option to opt-out of using the machines. The new rules will require certain passengers who pose high security risks to use the body scanners, without the option to opt-out.

The Benefits of Full Body Scanners

Airport body scanners do have some benefits. For one, many passengers dislike the idea of a pat down and would prefer to go through a body scanner.

In addition, 3D body scanners could detect items a metal detector would overlook, such as plastic or chemical explosives and nonmetallic weapons. The devices do have trouble detecting weapons stored in a body cavity.

Objections to TSA Body Scanners

Some criticize TSA’s decision to make full body scanners a requirement for certain passengers. Primary concerns include:

  • Health Risks. Full body scanners emit some radiation. This is concerning to many, as passengers who have had previous instances of cancer, parents with young kids and pregnant mothers could be effected. TSA says the radiation levels are below the safe level, but some feel not enough studies have been done to prove the safety of the devices.
  • Fourth Amendment Concerns. Others say the rule conflicts with the fourth amendment, which gives citizens the right to object to unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • Ineffective Security. Many sources report 3D body scanners are not effective at preventing threats and only provide a false sense of security. In one study, the devices failed to find weapons and explosives in 96% of covert tests.

What This Means for You

So, what does all this mean for you? Well, it’s possible your next visit to Nashville International airport could include you being forced through a body scanner. If you refuse, you may not be able to board your flight.

For some, this is no big deal, as they appreciate the added security. For others, it’s an invasion of privacy. Either way, the rules aren’t likely to change. The question is: Will TSA eventually make it required that all passengers comply to full body scans—not allowing anyone to opt out? Only time will tell.

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