Controversial Airport Scanners Boycotted through Social Media Campaign

posted on 22 November 2010 by Alice Thomas

We've all been there:  your flight is boarding, but you're stuck at the back of a queue to get through security which snakes through at least half a kilometre of airport coffee shops and buckets into which we can handily deposit bread knives, or a machete we may happen to have upon our person.

Unfortunately, for an estimated 24 million travellers  who are expected to pass through Security at 68 US airports over the Thanksgiving  holiday at the end of November, the dreaded wait to get through Security is about to get considerably worse.Airport _security

You probably haven't missed the debate over the new full body scanners, but if you have, allow me to recap.  The scanners were introduced at the request of the Transport Security Agency in agreement with the US Department of Homeland Security as a response to the (allegedy) growing number of bombers managing to get onto aircraft with bombs strapped to their bodies.  This all sounds like good stuff, apart from the fact that these new scanners are hugely unpopular (because of the, ahem…detailed images they produce), with the very people they are designed to protect-ordinary travellers.

This is where the internet has really come into its own, doing what it does best.   On the back of many disgruntled travellers and pressure groups, who have been using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to vent their frustration, National Opt Out Day, and other sites such as DontScan.us, and NudeOScope are harnessing social media to try and affect a policy change over the scanners.

National Opt Out Day has been scheduled for the 24th November, as US airports are at their busiest.  Travellers are encouraged to opt out of the full body scanners, instead receiving a 'manual pat down' from Security staff, in an attempt to force the TSA to reconsider its scanner policy.

Manchester Airport was the first airport to implement the new scanners in the UK, back in the spring.  The backlash wasn't nearly as bad over here; perhaps we don't care as much about our privacy rights, or perhaps we're just less prudish on this side of the pond!