Just Because 'National Opt-Out Day' Didn't Do Much, Does It Mean People Don't Care About TSA Searches?

from the say-what-now? dept

Last Wednesday, there was a lot of media attention paid to this concept of “national opt-out day” concerning the TSA’s new “naked scan or grope” security options. I didn’t cover that story at all. Leading up to it, I don’t think I even mentioned the concept of the “national opt-out day” once, because the whole idea seemed pretty silly. In retrospect, it may have been worse than silly. Since there was no corresponding gridlock at airports, it appears that the press has now decided that because “national opt-out day” was a failure, it means people don’t really care about the TSA’s new policies. In other words, the failure of the protest means this “story” is over, much to the relief of the TSA and the administration, who now thinks it can go on ignoring the very real concerns of passengers.

This is a problem.

It’s no surprise that the media storm over the TSA procedures had an arc. It’s how major media stories go. But, it’s unfortunate that there was this misguided focus on getting a bunch of people to do stuff on a particular day (and a day when they are probably least interested in actually doing what’s asked of them). Because of that, suddenly, to the major media, it feels like this story is “over.” But to the people who are still worried about the scans or uncomfortable with being groped by the government without reasonable cause, it’s unfortunate that this story will now get less attention. It’s not because the issue is any less. And it’s not because the TSA has responded to the concerns. It’s because of this one silly, poorly thought-out “event,” which became a part of the media spectacle and an easy way to end the story with a claim that the whole set of protests has been a failure.

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Just Because 'National Opt-Out Day' Didn't Do Much, Does It Mean People Don't Care About TSA Searches?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
46 Comments
Benny6Toes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

i can’t speak for the day before Thanksgiving, but i flew out of Atlanta (Hartsfield-Jackson; busiest airport in the world) on thanksgiving morning, and i was through security in about 10 minutes. it looked to me like the scanners were all roped off and turned off.

since it appears that this has happened at other airports as well, wouldn’t that make National Opt-Out Day a success?

Anonymous Coward says:

National opt-out day was a failure because there was nothing to opt out from. And also, all the reporting was based on the TSA blog as the only source. That is plainly absurd. Of course the TSA blog also linked to all the reporting as a source to itself, creating a circle of misinformation. The comments in the blog post are by far more informative than the post itself, and they inform that a) the TSA shouldn’t be conducting obvious acts of self-promotion and b) that the post is a lie, since there where no scanners. I’m flying today. I hope that the scanners are still off.

C.J. (profile) says:

Just ignore the news media

All that spews from their mouths is the same from all of the news media. Got to look good, and secure their jobs, make sure big Gov is happy.

Don’t believe me? Pick out a few top issues covered on the news. Now spend some time watching each of the news stations to see what was said on your topics. You will notice most follow word for word. Many also have the same beliefs on the topic, or sayings. So if one calls a certain politician a dork, the rest do also. I have even caught them saying the same thing line for line – word by word when they bashed a famous person. Rather if was a politician, actress, or actor etc.

Alex Jones wont let the TSA issues die.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

The real issue

Mike;

You overlook the real issue here. The real issue is that the Media’s Audiance that would want to hear about the TSA and the Groping is no longer concerned because it won’t affect them again until either Christmas or next Thanksgiving.

It’s no coincidence that the media was all over these stories right before one of the biggest travel times of the year. It stired up the people that fly only this time of the year and they got all bent out of shape. BUT now that they are done flying, and the TSA did a good job of not harrassing them by closing the scanners and most likely they couldn’t grope the same percentage of flyer either, so noone’s going to care.

The real tragedy isn’t the lack of success of the Opt-Out plan, the real tragedy is that it should have waited until it made the biggest statement which would be after the holiday flyers are no longer an issue.

ALL of the “increased” security issues are because of the holiday flyers, it’s no coincidense that they come into play in September/October.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Did opt out day fail?

I want to know the numbers of people that actually flew compared to the last few years. I’d bet the reason there was no gridlock was that there were less people flying. Or a combination of that and them dropping the security.

Shouldn’t we be afraid of the TSA when they will close off the oh so necessary scanners just to prove a point?

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Did opt out day fail?

I want to know the numbers of people that actually flew compared to the last few years.

I found it amusing that right after a cable news story on the “failure” of the national opt-out day was a story about how the traffic on the highways was very high. So, no one in the newsroom thought that the two stories were possibly related? Would it be too much to ask that they would have cited some stats on the traffic as compared to last year? Call it bias or just good old fashioned incompetance; in either case, it’s just terrible reporting.

Robert says:

The machines were off

I’ve heard this from a few others, but I know for myself flying out of EWR (Newark Liberty) during “Opt-out day” the machines weren’t running and were roped off so nobody could even get near them. No extra pat downs. Nothing out of the ordinary.

I suspect this was done intentionally to keep the number of people opting out to a minimum for PR purposes… then just phase them back in slowly.

Also noteworthy is that there were no significant delays were reported at any airports in the country this year (first time in a few years) for pre-thanksgiving rush.

BBT says:

Propaganda

The powerful have been mounting a pretty steady PR Campaign in defense of the TSA and the scanner policies. There have been countless articles telling us that we’re being unreasonable, to think of the poor TSA workers struggling to get by, telling us we must want to be blown up, telling us what horrible people we are for questioning authority.

I wouldn’t exactly put much trust in any media report about the effects of “Opt Out Day”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Let this non-story die

because unless your gym teacher was a perv, you weren’t being fondled in the showers or locker room. Being touched is more invasive than being looked at. And as far as the scans go for being looked at, after walking by, its just a memory for the others and is gone, your scan pictures are stored for safekeeping and future viewing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Opt Out Day a failure? To tell the truth, it was doomed from the start. No one flys for the joy of flying, so to take a flight, you have to want to get somewhere fast without any other option. Throw in Thanksgiving and who really is going to throw up their hands and prove a point with the chance of missing out on a holiday? Opt out days in the future? What family would miss their visit to Disney to prove a point? What business traveler will miss that meeting so their junk stays safe?

jinksto says:

I love comments...

… from people that didn’t actually read the story. Most of these are the “pro” scanner comments which makes you wonder how many of them are scripted responses.

It remains amazing to me that though 80% of the country purportedly support the scanners nearly 100% of comments on news stories that I’ve seen are anti-scanner. Of course, a lot of people that are “interested” in this store are against that can’t account for the overwhelmingly negative response. Even on the original CBS poll report 98% of the responses were negative and yet the media just keeps quoting these numbers.

flytomuch says:

Overblown

This whole discussion and the opt out effort are very misguided. It would seem we all get a little forgetful of the realities of the world and get caught up in our own little selfish worlds. I am definitely concerned about the scanners and the pat downs and believe that very strict guidance and oversight needs to be in place. However, people are out there that will use every loop hole in our security to try and terrorize the population. In other works KILL PEOPLE. Where will all these people who offer no alternatives to the scanners and pat downs but believe both are intrusive and unnecessary be when a plane falls out of the sky and a couple of hundred people are dead. They will be in their houses trying to rationalize that they played no role in it. The world is not perfect but I seem to remember something from grade school:

If you have nothing constructive to say, shut up!

Security is invasive by its very nature. But we cannot turn our backs on the danger. The key is to accept the realities and minimize the personal impact, privacy concerns and rights issues for the good of everyone and the individual. A balancing act. This “opt-out”…what if terrorist had used that day to actually blow up a plane. I wonder how that would have went because you know some were thinking about it.

Anyways, let’s work together and drive change based on the real world realities and not some mis-placed sense of personal injury. If someone seeing my naked means 200 people won’t die this year, let me know where I need to line up!!!!

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Overblown

This whole discussion and the opt out effort are very misguided. It would seem we all get a little forgetful of the realities of the world and get caught up in our own little selfish worlds.

I absolutely disagree. Most of us are very aware of the fact that these machines and policies don’t work and are not protecting us at all. We’d like to see actual security put into place, which is a good part of why we’re protesting. Which is sort of the opposite of what you said.

I am definitely concerned about the scanners and the pat downs and believe that very strict guidance and oversight needs to be in place.

I am concerned about the fact that both are dangerous, useless, and expensive. The guidance needs to be away from these measures and the oversight needs to be by people who aren’t financially gaining from the measures.

However, people are out there that will use every loop hole in our security to try and terrorize the population. In other works KILL PEOPLE.

Yes, so let’s ditch the scanners and the pat-downs – which don’t work – and trade them in for measures that do work.

Where will all these people who offer no alternatives to the scanners and pat downs but believe both are intrusive and unnecessary be when a plane falls out of the sky and a couple of hundred people are dead.

Your statement is disingenuous. First, the scanners and groping don’t lessen your chances being blown out of the sky, so alternatives aren’t necessary. Second, plenty of people have offered alternatives. Third, we’d be in the same place we were the many times that this has happened before.

Wait, you know that 9/11 wasn’t the first time, right?

They will be in their houses trying to rationalize that they played no role in it.

It’s more likely that they’ll be in their houses, angry at politicians who put useless, expensive scanners in to please their lobbyists, while ignoring inexpensive safety measures that actually stood a chance of stopping the terrorists in question.

You’ll be in the one trying to rationalize your role in it, just like you’re trying to rationalize the loss of liberties that these scanners and pat-downs represent.

The world is not perfect but I seem to remember something from grade school:

If you have nothing constructive to say, shut up!

What grade school told you this? I’d be very interested in hearing about it, because adults don’t generally encourage children to come up with constructive criticism, much less allow it in their classrooms.

Are you thinking of having nothing nice to say?

Security is invasive by its very nature.

No, it’s not.

But we cannot turn our backs on the danger.

That’s right, we can’t, which is why we’re protesting these dangerous security theater measures that are causing us bodily harm, along with harming our liberty.

The key is to accept the realities and minimize the personal impact, privacy concerns and rights issues for the good of everyone and the individual.

Yes, that’s why we should get rid of the scanners and groping, and start introducing real security, Israeli-style.

A balancing act. This “opt-out”…what if terrorist had used that day to actually blow up a plane.

On Opt-Out Day, or any other day, they could simply place the bomb in a cavity. End of story.

I wonder how that would have went because you know some were thinking about it.

Actually, most security agencies think that our airports aren’t the biggest targets, anymore. In regards to our airports, the terrorists have won. They believe that the next step is to cripple a highway, train station, or another urban center.

(My guess of your reaction to that statement: “Ahh! Let’s put scanners and groping in front of the Mall of America!!!”)

Anyways, let’s work together and drive change based on the real world realities and not some mis-placed sense of personal injury. If someone seeing my naked means 200 people won’t die this year, let me know where I need to line up!!!!

Too bad that’s not what it means.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Overblown

I am definitely concerned about the scanners and the pat downs and believe that very strict guidance and oversight needs to be in place. However, people are out there that will use every loop hole in our security to try and terrorize the population. In other works KILL PEOPLE.

Sure. But, as stated, the TSA seems to be aiming for perfect security, which is an impossible goal. Someone will bring down a plane sometime. The problem is not that people “don’t like” these new procedures, but that they realize the invasiveness greatly outweighs the actual effectiveness.

You can’t just claim “but people are trying to kill us” and use that to make everything seem okay — especially without any evidence that such procedures work. Based on that reasoning, it should be fine to force you to strip naked and be searched before you go out in public “because people are trying to kill us.” But, obviously, you would find that problematic. So why do you say one is okay, but not the other?

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Overblown

You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than killed in a terrorist attack, but I don’t see everyone walking around in thunderstorms in rubber safety suits BECAUSE IT’S JUST SO REMOTE A CHANCE!

But hey, let’s spend billions at the airport, give everyone cancer, sexually assault them (except on Thanksgiving, where we turn the machines off so that they have something to be thankful for) for a 1 in 200,000 chance of an attack.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Profiling?

Is there a good anti-terrorism system? Or do we just accept terrorism as a fact of life in the modern world and not try to deal with it? Any thoughts?

In Israel profiling is used, but the concept has been widely rejected here.

What can U.S. learn from Israel airport security? – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News: “Israeli intelligence agencies, working in lock-step with airport security, flag travelers deemed potentially dangerous — a designation applied most readily, and controversially, to Arabs who make up 20 percent of the Jewish state’s population.

Commensurate scrutiny follows: from the rifle-carrying guards that question the drivers of incoming cars, to the unsmiling sentries who eye passengers as they wheel in their luggage, to the security interrogations in the check-in lines.

As a last resort, on Israeli airlines at least, undercover sky marshals can be seated next to passengers seen as risky.”

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Profiling?

In Israel profiling is used, but the concept has been widely rejected here.

That’s untrue. Let me fix it for you:

In Israel, behavioral profiling is used, in addition to four layers of hard security measures, including baggage searches in bomb-proof areas. The concept hasn’t been discussed here.

There you go!

(By the way, I’m in favor of the Israeli system.)

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Profiling?

The problem is the word “profiling”, which has become a “taboo” (pejorative) word. In the minds of most people, there is no distinction between criminal profiling, behavioral profiling, or racial profiling. The moment you say “profile”, people substitute “racism” even when it isn’t at all appropriate. This is probably what scares the TSA the most (and seems to be the root cause of why they think only grandmas and children should be searched, because they are the least likely to be offended)…but they need to get past this otherwise they will continue to be a joke.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Profiling?

One of the challenges with profiling is that someone has to be monitoring you enough to profile you. Do they monitor your emails/phone calls? Do they monitor who you meet with? Do they monitor your behavior at the airport? Do they look for superficial clues, like appearance, dress, last name, etc.

So profiling does involve a level of observation of you. It may not be as intrusive as the current TSA approach, so maybe you aren’t as aware of it, but you are being watched in some fashion, or you couldn’t be profiled.

Todd Eastman (profile) says:

Why I couldn't "Opt Out"

I think the concept had good intentions, but it failed in part because some of us opted to boycott flying altogether. I disagree with both the nude scanning and the body searches based on the 4th Amendment.

I predict (and hope) that this issue is far from over. I have stopped flying, but my elderly mother lives out of state and her health is failing. Sometime soon, I may have to fly on short notice. When that happens, I will do my best to not raise any flags, and hopefully just have to go through metal detectors. But if I get selected for an “enhanced” search, they better be prepared to physically restrain me, or arrest me. I won’t let them do it willingly.

jon (user link) says:

Opt Out Day accmplished a lot. Why is everybody so quick to dismiss it?

Reports from around the country were that they weren’t doing the prison-style enhanced patdowns, scanners were turned off at many airports, and even when the scanners were on a lot of people were given the chance to avoid them — here’s what it looked like in Seattle. FlyersRights’ hotline calls dropped from over a thousand a day to virtually nothing. Even before Wednesday, the TSA had reversed position and exempted pilots and flight attendants.

Unfortunately the mainstream media has been following the TSA’s line of “nothing to see here, move along.” Disappointing. But reporting aside, it was a major success.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Separate but Equal, Via Jordan (response to Suzanne Lainson, et. al. #29-33 )

My understanding is that the Israelis, ah, “encourage” Arab travelers to cross over into Jordan, and fly out of Amman on Air Jordan. What was the phrase our Southern States used to use? “Separate But Equal.” The same principle is increasingly being applied to education. An Israeli Arab has to wait a couple of years to get into an Israeli university, so as not to get ahead of the Israelis who are doing military service– or he can cross the Jordan River, and start college right away. Something like a third of Israeli Arab college students are now studying in Jordan, and the proportion is increasing rapidly. Again, the same principle as the state of Mississippi. Someone who doesn’t respond to either the carrot or the stick is by definition, suspect.

http://www.mail-archive.com/cikeas@yahoogroups.com/msg16234.html

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/non_aviation/read.main/976313/

http://www.securitymanagement.com/article/profiling-aviation-threats-004454

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/business/what-are-israeli-arabs-are-they-jewish-1.123496

http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=8200

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...