TSA Kills the Opt Out Option

Part of the text of the new TSA policy on AIT opt-outs

Don’t want to go through the “Advanced Imaging Technology” (AIT) screening at a TSA checkpoint? Up until last week they were easy enough to avoid with the simple phrase “opt out” at the entrance. But the TSA is changing the rules. Even passengers who opt out may be forced through the AIT machines, calling in to question just what the “opt” part means any more.

TSA is updating the AIT PIA to reflect a change to the operating protocol regarding the ability of individuals to 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 as warranted by security considerations in order to safeguard transportation security.

Of course, no specific details on what security considerations may warrant such a scenario or who gets to decide when it is in place. This is rather ironic given that the document includes a section “Principle of Transparency” but hardly a surprise.  From the document:

2. Principle of Individual Participation Principle:

DHS should involve the individual in the process of using PII. DHS should, to the extent practical, seek individual consent for the collection, use, dissemination, and maintenance of PII and should provide mechanisms for appropriate access, correction, and redress regarding DHS’s use of PII.

Individuals undergoing screening using AIT generally will have the option to decline an AIT screening in favor of physical screening. Given the implementation of ATR and the mitigation of privacy issues associated with the individual image generated by previous versions of AIT not using ATR, and the need to respond to potential security threats, TSA will nonetheless mandate AIT screening for some passengers as warranted by security considerations in order to safeguard transportation security.

Makes me all that much happier that I have PreCheck more often than not. Because this just sucks.

h/t @ssegraves

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Not cool. While I have PreCheck, I occasionally get “randomly selected for additional screening” like the rest of us. I always opt out of the AIT, not because I’m necessarily “afraid” of the machine, but because I wear several thousand dollars worth of insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring equipment that can be damaged by AIT machines according to the manufacturer. While this probably won’t become an issue for me, I do not like the idea that the TSA has added this wrinkle one bit.

  2. Marshall: my partner wears a pump, and 75% of the time (when he doesn’t do pre-check), TSA tells him that he can go through the AIT no matter what, and if he doesn’t ‘want’ to, its considered an opt-out. I can see a TSA agent requiring people with insulin pumps to go through the AIT, or not flying.

  3. The moment AIT became the primary method of screening, it was easily predicted that the ‘opt-out’ would only be a temporary measure. Thus is the way in the progress towards complete police state.

  4. I don’t understand, you go thru the ATI with the pump and the ATI will alert so you have to get hand pat down anyway so what is the point of forcing you thru the ATI and denying the hand pat down in the first place?

  5. This now (24 Dec) is just hitting ‘USA Today.’ Thanks to my FB friends and blog writers, I knew two days before they told me, lol. ( nothing in their article at first glance tells me the main difference is for people on the watch list, so I still know more then ‘USA Today.’) 🙂

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