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  • Occupy Wall Street: What Just Happened?

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Excellent update on TSA protests and National Opt Out Day (and what happens next…)

Little airplane

Image via Wikipedia

From the website Optoutday.com:

THANK YOU for making National Opt Out Day a success!

Despite claims to the contrary, National Opt-Out Day was a rousing success.  The entire point of the campaign was to raise awareness of the issues of privacy and aviation safety at TSA checkpoints, with the ultimate goal of influencing policy – to ask the question “are we really doing this right?”  In that, the campaign was a success.  It was always about getting attention to the issue, educating the public and putting pressure on to change the current procedures.  With near daily headlines on the front page of newspapers and debates on television and radio news, the mission was accomplished – our voice was heard.  By the time November 24 rolled around policy change had already been set in motion.

National Opt-Out Day was launched November 8.  Since that time, we’ve seen some common sense applied to TSA security procedures.  Congress and the Administration have also taken notice of the unease of the traveling public. Originally, the TSA Administrator said that their airport security policy would not change.  Then…

pilots were exempt from their intrusive procedures.  Then children 12 and under would not be subjected to the full rigors of the enhanced pat down.  Then flight crews would be spared the degrading procedures.  Then a scientist who worked on the body scanners said he made the government aware years ago about the privacy issue, and how to easily get around it, but his suggestion fell on deaf ears.  Then the TSA Administrator [John Pistole] said he never informed the public about the pat downs as he should have.  Then TSA was forced to apologize for their egregious actions against some citizens in high-profile mishaps. Then TSA announced they would go back to see if the enhanced pat downs could be done in a different, less invasive way.  And the changes keep coming.  Indeed, there is some question as to whether there was any unofficial change in TSA procedures on November 24.  Report after report came in from travelers at airports throughout the country about the body scanners not being in operation as they usually are, allowing TSA to circumvent the problem altogether by eliminating or limiting the chance for passengers to opt-out.

Ultimately, the hype built by the media for National Opt-Out Day turned the event into something that it could never be.  They wanted the chaos at the airports, they wanted long lines and beyond-frustrated travelers because it would make a good story.  The old saying, “if it bleeds, it leads” was certainly true in this case.   In interview after interview, optoutday.com was consistently asked: “What do you say to those people who will miss their flights?”  Consistently, our response back was that no one would miss their flights because of this, given that TSA is prepared to handle the situation, given that 80% of security checkpoints do not use the body scanners (and for those that do, they may not be operational), and given that asking people to experience an enhanced pat down was a big ask.  Further, optoutday.com always mentioned that there was never any desire or intent to delay passengers or slow the system down.  But the media would just not let it go.  So they set their own narrative and were able to draw their own conclusion.

Optoutday.com still urges passengers to opt-out of the body scanners whenever possible, and will be keeping close tabs on any policy changes made by the TSA.  Their actions will dictate what happens next.

_________________________ Optoutday.com adds:

Be sure to write Congress to let them know how you feel about naked body scanners and intrusive pat downs.

To write your Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, please visit: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

To write your U.S. Senator, please visit: http://senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

If you have experienced a problem with TSA when flying, file a complaint at your checkpoint, call the TSA at 1-866-289-9673, and also use the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s incident report to lodge your complaint: http://epic.org/bodyscanner/incident_report/

Testimonials from travelers here: http://www.thousandsstandingaround.org/

Follow us on twitter: http://twitter.com/nationaloptout

email optoutday at admin at optoutday dot com

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