Body Scanner “Opt-Out” Day Ineffective at Port Columbus

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A woman lines up between two black boxes that make up the full-body scanner. It takes only seconds to conduct the scan. TSA officials say passengers are chosen at random. (Click on image to enlarge.)(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)
A woman lines up between two black boxes that make up the full-body scanner. It takes only seconds to conduct the scan. TSA officials say passengers are chosen at random. (Click on image to enlarge.)(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)

The efforts of some privacy advocates Wednesday to cause long line at airport security check points by “opting-out” of body scanners and “opting-in” to more time-consuming pat downs proved non-existent at Port Columbus. WOSU reports despite the holiday rush, operations were running smoothly.

Full-body scanners were put to use yesterday at Port Columbus for what is one of the busiest travel days of the year. In an effort to put a snag in holiday travel and make a point to the Transportation Security Administration, some privacy advocates organized “National Scanner Opt-out Day.”

Fliers were being encouraged to forgo body scans for the more time-consuming full-body pat down.

But at Port Columbus many travelers were more concerned about getting on their planes than worrying about their privacy.

Simeon Ball was headed home to Milwaukee.

“You know, really, whatever gets me home fastest. I’m not going to balk about it, just because I want to go home and be with my family. On, you know, a historically busy travel day I don’t want to be the one holding up the line,” Ball said.

Selection of those to be scanned by the TSA appeared to be random.

Leslie Malkoff was headed to Dallas with her husband Kurt. Malkoff said she thinks people are missing the whole point of the scanners.

“You know what, everybody is so afraid, more afraid of being felt up than blown up. You know what, whatever it takes, I say, not to have someone take a bomb in their underwear. Whatever. So you’re fine with either one? I’m fine with either one. Oh, yeah. What do you think, honey? I totally agree,” Malkoff said.

But some people were in favor of the scanners, not for time, not for security, but because like this passenger said,”I’m going through the scanner. I’d rather be scanned than molested.”

It seemed pretty easy to get out of town, and those coming into Columbus say there were few problems like Maddie Stough who flew in from Charlotte, North Carolina. Stough said it took her longer to park than get through security.

“I totally overestimated the time I would need. So, I think it’s sort of a news story that’s sort of exploded,” Stough said.

Port Columbus spokesperson Angie Tabor said the airport was aware of the “opt-out” day. No special measures were taken other than what is necessary for holiday weekend travel.

“We’ve had the body scanners in place since May. And we really not had any sort of backlash here. People understand there’s a balance between safety on an aircraft and personal privacy, and you know trying to find that balance is always the key,” Tabor said.

TSA officials say since the advanced imaging scanners were put in place in 2007, only about one percent of passengers selected to be scanned chose to be screen through alternative methods like a pat down.

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