OAKLAND — Some passengers may choose to decline a full-body computer scan as they go through airport security Wednesday as part of National Opt-Out Day, a grass-roots protest against safety measures that officials say expedite the security process but which some say are an invasion of privacy.
At issue are Advanced Imaging Technology, or AIT, scanners, which give security personnel an image of each passenger who walks through that looks like either “a fuzzy photo negative” or a “chalk etching,” according to the Transportation Security Administration.
Though TSA reports that more than 99 percent of passengers agree to this security method every day, National Opt-Out Day organizers argue the imaging is invasive of privacy, that the images are too explicit. The group wants passengers to take advantage of TSA’s ongoing policy that any passenger can opt to submit to a physical pat-down, which would slow the security lines. The pat-down has come under scrutiny as well.
Officials at both Oakland and San Francisco airports said that they expect massive traffic bumps for the holidays this week but that they anticipate no effect on either safety or service as a result of whether people opt out Wednesday.
TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said the AIT scans speed up the security process, however the day of protest is likely to slow it down.
“We’re relying on passengers not to participate in this irresponsible act and gum up the system,” Melendez said. “We’re going to be prepared for high traffic as we always are the day before Thanksgiving and hope the passengers work with us.”
A spokesman for National Opt-Out Day did not immediately return a request for comment Monday.