I travel fairly often, both for business and pleasure, and I’m the guy who always opts out of the new scanners.
Not because I’m a terrorist, some kind of subversive or because I am worried about the long term medical implications of untested millimeter wave or backscatter x-ray machines but because I want to send a message.
The message is simple. Don’t let politicians under the guise of the war on terror whittle away at those inconvenient freedoms that we won’t notice as they are taken away bit by bit. Don’t less commercial interests drive the adoption of technology at our expense with no benefit. Don’t let the terrorists win by creating a climate of fear where these abuses are simply accepted.
First it was the requirement to show ID before you could board a plane (sounds a bit like Eastern European travel passes) and now you have to submit to either security by theatre or an attempt at public humiliation. What next? Travel Permits? DNA testing?
The only winners are the suppliers of these very expensive pieces of equipment, and the politicians who earmark these into legislation in return for promises of campaign support. Has a single terrorist been thwarted by these measures? It would seem not as the press releases that self-important agencies like the TSA love to issue just talk about what a great “deterrent” they are, and how safe the machines are… meanwhile the politicians and TSA officials skip both the machines and the enhanced pat-down process that we mere mortals have to decide between.
Ironically in many airports it’s possible by getting in the right line, or picking the right checkpoint to avoid these machines altogether – do we really expect agents of the Axis of Evil to be less cunning than a harassed business traveller desperate to get to Boise to sell tractor parts?
There are better solutions: making use of properly trained screening agents (as in Israel); designing airports to be safe and secure by default to reduce risk of an attack in an un-secured place by starting basic checks and observation further out; by making passengers, airlines, airport operators and the security agencies partners in the process.
Meantime… I’m the guy being made to stand in my socks while a TSA Agent yells “male assist, opt-out” because it’s easier to try and shame me into compliance than actually make flying safer. Next time you fly… join me. It’s fun being the center of attention sometimes 🙂