A Transportation Security Administration employee demonstrates a backscatter X-ray body scanner, following the directions of a screener, at Sea-Tac Airport.

A Transportation Security Administration employee demonstrates a backscatter X-ray body scanner, following the directions of a screener, at SEA Photo by Aubrey Cohen/Seattle PI

Ah the joys of body scanners. Costing a fortune, invading our privacy and making people feel safer about flying. I haven’t been a fan of them since the get-go and now my home town airport has them.

Back in August I reported that Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) would start using body scanners in September. However, they got delayed, but now are ready to start scanning. Two of the machines have been installed at the south check point and should be in full use by the end of this week.

Jim Forman with KING5 was at SEA last week and got a first look at the body scanners. Some of the people he interviewed said, “If it keeps us safer on the flights, it’s worth it.” Well, what if it doesn’t keep you safer? Is it worth it then?

Aubrey Cohen with the Seattle PI asked about privacy and health concerns. The TSA explained to him that the machines are not able to  store images, and the screeners in the room may not have any cameras, cell phones or other recording devices. The TSA also applies a “privacy algorithm” that makes the images less explicit. Even though there might be the rule of no cameras or phones, that doesn’t mean all employees across the country will listen to those rules.

When asked about heath concerns, Jeanette Parker, deputy federal security director at SEA told Cohen,”This technology is safe, it meets national health and safety standards. Backscatter technology was evaluated by independent third parties. Studies have shown a single scan with backscatter imaging technology is equivalent to two minutes of flight at altitude.”

Even though the scanners are only at the south check point, additional scanners will be installed at the north check point soon. It will be closed for two weeks while they reconfigure the check point for the new body scanners. The TSA does not expect there to be any delays since they will open all the stations at the other three check points.

As more and more airports get these scanner I wonder why do we continue to spend millions of dollars to give the impression of flight safety. They do not make us safer, they cost us money and they take away our privacy.

Well, time to go take a look at them first hand. I am on my way to SEA, since I am flying this morning. I will head over to the south terminal to check them out.

Remember, no matter what airport you are at, you have the right to opt out of being scanned.

Check out additional photos from the Seattle PI.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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3 Comments

Really? Wow. I didn’t know that I could choose not to be scanned. Well, I guess I could…but I would just have to go home. Don’t we have to be security screened to be admitted to the concourse? I think I’ll trying saying, “No, I’d prefer not to be scanned” next time I go through and see what happens.

Aubrey Cohen

You can choose not to go through the body scanner. If you do, you’ll have to go through the metal detector and then a pat down. You can’t opt out of the metal detector.

AIT is designed to be an easier way of meeting the detection capability of a strip-search. Which is why it was first used on prison inmates in lieu of a physical strip-search. It doesn’t only show objects. It shows strikingly detailed images of a persons naked body so explicit the images need to be viewed in a separate location and the image viewer is not allowed to see the passenger being screened because it would be considered violation of privacy.

You have the UNCONDITIONAL RIGHT to OPT-OUT and especially to OPT-OUT your kids!
Click on my name above or go to:
http://DontScan.me
for important safety and privacy information as well as actual images, not the propaganda that TSA is spewing.

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