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TSA Can Now Force You Through Those Ghastly Body Scanners


The Department of Homeland Security has a holiday surprise for you!


The Department of Homeland Security was rather busy last month. It apparently included granting the Transportation Security Administration the right to force airline passengers through those creepy body scanner machines.

In the past, passengers had the option to opt out of going through the scanners and could ask to go through a metal detector and get a pat-down instead. The new rule will still allow travelers to opt out if they desire, but now TSA officers can deny individuals this privilege and force them to go through the machines at will.

In November, DHS quietly updated their Advanced Imagery Technology protocols (the set of rules security the TSA is supposed to follow) by adding a clause that would allow security officers the right to compel passengers through those scanners, according to Slash Gear.  

Here’s the wording of that rule change:

TSA is updating the AIT 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.

The scanners have spurred much controversy over civil liberties, as many feared TSA officers could see them naked, or worried that their images would be stored or leaked. These privacy concerns aren’t all that off base, because these images have been leaked to the media before and subsequently published online. 

Three civil liberties groups—the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the Rutherford Institute—are suing the TSA because they say it bent the rules when integrating them into the security screening process.

You can find out more about TSA’s pre-check, which allows you to bypass much of the airport security measures, including the body machines, here. 

Forced body scans aren’t the only travel horror the government has cooked up for you, either. Come 2016, you may need to bring your passport along to travel to another state if your state joins those who refuse to comply with new federal rules for how state IDs have to be formatted. And you’d better make sure to pay your taxes, because the IRS may soon be able to revoke your passport if you owe them, thanks to a new law. 

Thanks, government!