The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has changed its rules about the use of body scanners in U.S. airports, saying that officers are now allowed to forcibly screen passengers through Advanced Imaging Technologies (AIT), even if they chose to “opt out”.
The new rules say:
“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. TSA does not store any personally identifiable information from AIT screening.”
The new rules were put in place on December 18th, and were immediately pointed out by journalist Julia Angwin via Twitter, who noted:
“DHS just changed rules – and they can force you to go through body scanners now. I’ve always opted out in past.”
DHS just changed rules – and they can force you to go through body scanners now. I’ve always opted out in past. https://t.co/oRx5iuCRVs
— Julia Angwin (@JuliaAngwin) December 22, 2015
In order to ease the minds of any nervous travelers who have preferred to opt out in the past, the DHS makes it clear that not only is the AIT incapable of storing any of the images it captures, but also that “the Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) software replaces the individual’s image with that of a generic figure.”
The image above is what (we’re told) a TSA agent sees after scanning your body.
If even that makes you uncomfortable, you can still attempt to opt out in the future, but the “threat detection capabilities” are such an improvement over a standard pat-down that the DHS is doing everything it can to force passengers through an AIT scanner.