There are plenty of people who avoid the machines because they don't trust the government and their incompetent safety subcontracters on radiation safety issues. It's also understandableif medically incorrectfor cancer and immunocompromised patients to have concerns. Then there's the contingent of travelers who don't like having to strike the not-exactly-not-humiliating "hands above your head like you're a criminal" pose. The new machines do nothing for them andjudging by the comments we get every time we do a full-body scanner postthere are more than a few of those people out there.
Ongoing concerns shouldn't really count as arguments against the new Gingerbread Man scanners, as long as travelers will still be allowed to opt out. Theoretically the new scanners should alleviate the concerns of some travelers without angering anyone who wasn't already concerned about the more invasive scanners. All win and no lose.
But listen very closely to the interview with Michael Young, TSA's Federal Security Director in Northern Ohio, which we've embedded below. Skip to 1:15 where he says "During this pilot it's very important to understand that these are 100% voluntary. No one will be required to use these - at this time. It's an evolutionary process..."
Now that could mean that right now passengers have a choice between the usual full-body scanners, Gingerbread Man scanners, or pat-downs, and that later the choice will only be between Gingerbread Man scanners and pat-downs. Or it could mean that TSA is gearing up to declare that, with the deployment of less invasive scanners, flyers no longer have any reasonable reason to opt out. We're 50/50 on which we would prefer. Mandatory scanning for everyone!
As travelers we obviously prefer to have as many options as possible, and we're also not wild about some of the more extreme hysteria in public criticism of TSA, which would reach new heights in the absence of opt-out options. But as bloggers...can you imagine the easy content?
UPDATE: TSA spokesperson James Fotenos writes in:
Just wanted to point out that the Plain Dealer video you’re using and quoted in the piece is from 2009. That year, TSA conducted a limited pilot of both backscatter and millimeter wave technology at Cleveland Hopkins. In 2011, we only use millimeter wave at that location, and it is no longer in the pilot phase... advanced imaging technology, including those using the ATR upgrade, is optional for all passengers.