Until now, you had the ability to opt out of a trip through the Transportation Security Administration’s full-body scanners and instead undergo a thorough physical screening. But a new document issued by Homeland Security allows the TSA to make the scans mandatory ‘for some passengers.’
TSA is updating the Advanced Imaging Technologies (AIT) Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) to reflect a change to the operating protocol regarding the ability of individuals to opt opt-out of AIT screening in favor of physical screening. While passengers may generally decline AIT screening in favor of physical screening, TSA may direct mandatory AIT screening for some passengers.
In other words, if the TSA wants you to be scanned, you now have no option but to do as it asks.
The controversial scanners have been tweaked since their first release, of course. The scanners no longer capture ‘naked’ images, instead using a system called Automated Target Recognition to simply show on a generic image of a body if there’s something suspicious about your person. And, as Homeland Security is keen to point out, the “TSA does not store any personally identifiable information from... screening[s].”
Whether those facts will be enough to appease privacy advocates remains to be seen.