You Can’t Opt Out Of Airport Body Scans In Australia

You Can’t Opt Out Of Airport Body Scans In Australia

Since December, travellers departing Australian international airports can be asked to pass through a body scanner. You might not be a fan of body scanners, but if you’re selected and asked to undergo one, you don’t have the choice of opting out or asking for an alternative.

[credit provider=”getty” creator=”Jeff Swensen”]

Proposals to introduce body scanners at airports (a plan which first emerged in Australia early last year) are often controversial. The objections typically fall into three categories:

  • The devices are a potential invasion of privacy and images from them might be shared with others
  • The devices pose a potential medical risk
  • Body scanning is merely another form of irrelevant “security theatre” at airports

As I’ve noted before, I’m not personally convinced by any of these arguments. The imagery from body scanners doesn’t identify you as an individual or include detailed imagery of your naked body (and in any event, everyone has genitals, people). Assessments of the medical risk suggest that it’s lower than that of using a mobile phone, and the radiation levels involved are much lower than the permitted Australian standard. As for the security theatre argument, in a world where Americans tried to board planes with loaded firearms last year, it’s clear that some form of security assessment is needed.

In any case, arguing over these issues is fairly pointless now that scanners are a reality for international travel when departing Australia. Body scanners aren’t being used on every single departing passenger, but if you’re asked to use one, refusing isn’t an option. As the FAQ for the body scanning process on the federal government TravelSECURE site makes clear, there’s no grounds for opting out other than health:

If a person refuses to undergo a body scan, and they have no medical or physical condition which prevents them for undertaking a body scan, they will be refused clearance and not allowed to pass through the screening point.

Not only will that mean missing your flight, you’ll also be banned from boarding any flight for 24 hours. Body scans won’t be compulsory for infants or children under 140cm in height. Anyone who has a medical condition meaning they can’t stand upright with their hands above their head for several seconds is also exempt (but may be asked to undergo additional screening, including a body search). Other than that, however, there are no grounds for refusal.

That’s a different situation to the US, where passengers can opt out of body scans and ask for a pat-down search instead. I suspect that this is going to lead to a few angry confrontations at Australian airports because of confusion over the differing rules. I still regularly get asked by people if liquid and gel restrictions apply to Australian domestic flights (they don’t), so it’s clear that many people believe there’s a single international set of rules regarding flight security. There aren’t.

Body scanning via a machine is much faster than a body search, and as such makes the process of getting through the airport. For that reason, I’m all for it — but I’m not kidding myself that everyone else feels the same way. Just remember: no amount of arguing will get you out of it.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman feels sorry for anyone forced to contemplate scans of his body. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


  • Unless you’re disabled/injured as described in the article, the only reason to object to this in reality is if you are carrying something you shouldn’t be.

    Only a first time flyer would try to have an arguement about it and even they should’ve been notified by their travel agent about what is/isn’t allowed on board the plane, new security procedures at airports, etc.

    Having said that, i’m also a fan of the TV show “Airways” which proves that there are plenty of idiots left travelling through airports.

    When i’m in airports i just agree to everything the staff ask of me – it’s MUCH faster.

    • I don’t agree with the idea that the only reason to object is that you’re doing something wrong. Some people do have a genuine moral objection to having their privacy invaded (either in a real sense or in a perceived sense).

      I really don’t like the whole “there’s nothing to worry about if you have nothing to hide” style of argument.

      • That’s fair enough – you always have those other alternatives:
        – cruise ship
        – train travel
        – bus travel

        I really fail to see what any amount of protest is going to do – if you don’t comply, and it’s only a selected few anyway – you will be banned from flying for 24 hours.

        There are lots of rules in society we don’t like, but if we choose to refuse to adhere to them, we’re only delyaing the inevitable – they (the AFP) are the ones with the guns.

        • Find me a train that gets me from Brisbane to Sydney in two hours and then I’ll consider it a real alternative.

          I’m not concerned about airport security at all. I do not feel threatened by terrorists and it isn’t because of the security measures in place, it’s because we’re such a small and inconsequential target that someone is more likely to run me over while I’m walking down the footpath than someone try to hijack a plane I’m going to be on.

          We are trading privacy for extra security that I simply do not feel is warranted. I go along with whatever instructions are given to me at the airport, simply because I don’t care but that doesn’t mean that I agree with what’s going on.

          • These security measures don’t apply on domestic flights, only international.

            I can’t understand the “privacy” threat – it’s not like they have a image of your naked body – its just an image of your bones and organs as i understand it. What can they see that you are concerned about other humans seeing?

            It sounds like it’s a once in a lifetime ask for most people anyway.

          • I was saying why that wasn’t a real alternative to travelling by plane.

            As for the privacy thing, it doesn’t really matter what level of detail they can see, it’s that they’re asking to see more than people would normally reveal.

          • Have you thought about religious reasons though? I know that some cultures find it offensive to have their image taken and so on. The point is though that there are “other” reasons that one might refuse and with good reason. Should these people (or anyone that opts-out) be discriminated against purely because the airport security can’t be arsed to do another form of check like a body search instead?

          • I hadn’t thought of that actually, but there again at it’s core religion is a belief system in a power greater than one’s self – it’s a choice that someone makes during their life to worship that power, and since almost all terrorist acts are committed by people with extremist religious views, by allowing “it’s against my religion” as a workaround you make the machines 100% useless.

            If you want to live in Australia, and support a religion other than christianity, then go your hardest. That’s fine. Understand though, that as 61.1% of the population are christians as at the 2011 Census, the majority rules and it’s not against the christian religion (not that I know much about it) to have images taken of yourself.

            We also have no state religion in Australia – it’s not illegal to believe in something else, but it is illegal to use your religious beliefs as exemption to Australian Law. Otherwise every other person could just say that driving sober and sticking to the speed limit are against their religion.

            Religion is not the same thing as a disability – a disability is something you can’t do anything about.

          • “If you want to live in Australia, and support a religion other than christianity”

            Ok then. I see where you’re coming from. No point debating further.

          • Many governments don’t follow particular “belief system” or higher power yet they commit the worse terrorist acts. Your point isn’t valid.

          • I think the traveller should be given the right to refuse. X-Rays can increase chances of cancer. As the radiation may activate particular genes which in time may be the actual cause of cancer. Even when it comes to approved x-Ray methods, you are advised to not undergo more than 6 a year. At least they should avoid the neck and face.

          • Actually, regarding the naked body thing: The Back Scatter scanners don’t show your bones and organs (the x-rays only penetrate a few mm into the skin), they show you naked, which was the initial privacy concern.

            Despite guarantees that images could not be downloaded from the scanners; security personnel in the US have been caught, and dismissed, after being caught with usb sticks full of images of naked travellers. That said, recently, Back Scatter machines in the USA have received software updates which obscure your genitals and other identifying features, so you no longer appear naked, and from what I’ve heard/read, are being slowly phased out and replaced by mm-wave scanners due to health concerns for frequent travellers/pilots/flight staff (daily exposure to low doses of ionising radiation etc).

            But of course none of this applies to Australia, as mentioned by Murray above, Australia only uses mm-wave scanners, which show an even more blurred image of the human body (with a brilliant 60% success rate!, definitely worth the cost!)

          • Have you ever heard of biometric data? Very dangerous. Have you ever heard of human rights? Maybe not. The only safety is freedom and Australia is now a officially a POLICE STATE.

          • The mm wave scanners show a naked image of your body.

            In my opinion this is a massive invasion of my privacy and not acceptable.

        • Your last couple of lines is what the Authorities want from us – Obedience! Most of the rules in Australian Governance are not their to support the growth or peace of society but to make sure the peoples of Australia do as they are told.

          On going BS of geopolitical interference to support the corporate state , the banks that fund both the miltary complex and terrorism (go HSBC) and the families the historically control these – The Rothchilds, Goldmans, Rockafellers and other f-heads. This is the reason for this erosion of dignity of an individual, trust and privacy – because they want Obedient dogs.

          • Whilst the “fight the man, beat the system” attitude of your post is admirable, and nice to fantasize about, at the end of the day if you are asked to undergo something like this next time your travelling, you will be agreeing to it just like the rest of them.

            You don’t have to like it, but that’s what living in a society that isn’t total anarchy is all about.

            If the terrorist with the bomb goes through one, still gets on the plane and 300 people die, then they will be removed.

          • Contemporary terrorists (the guys with a plan, not the mentally ill folks) don’t care to try to get a bomb on a plane. They could do far more by simply bombing the congested checkpoints, or a rail station, or a bus exchange, or a shopping mall. Airport security is all about instilling confidence in the travellers to keep the airline industry in the air – a placebo for ‘security hypochondria’, if you will.

          • Interesting topic. I work and have used these new body scanners. Basically for privacy the image comes up like a ginger bread man so you cant really see sensitive areas only whatever is left in your pockets comes up as yellow marks on a gingerbread man and sometimes they pick up on zippers. I totally understand where passengers are coming from though if they are concerned. I want to know more information about the scanners aswell because i operate them all day so im just as concerned. I do feel uncomfortable with the fact that people cant have a frisk/ pat down as an option unless they have a health issue or are ” Unsuitable” because it doesn’t seem ‘ Free” I know some annoying people have this job but i try my best to talk to and treat every passenger the way i would want to be if if i was travelling. i personally feel i am not getting told enough info about them in the small pamphlets and neither are the the passengers so want to research them more. If someone opts out or trys to when im working i just pass it to someone higher up to explain cause i see where people are coming from. i would prefer it if you could be offered alternative screening Australia talks about its freedoms allot i wish it could act on this.

          • Hi JJcoolaus, I understand that you feel that all human beings religious or otherwise “don’t have to like it, but that’s what living in a society that isn’t total anarchy is all about” it seems to me that you are leaving out a little logic in your post ie. looking at both sides of the argument. I believe that humans created government to “serve” them and not to “dominate” them or force/coerce them into things that they don’t want to do. Back on topic, if one looks at both sides of the argument to truly inform oneself, I don’t think one would be making posts like yours!
            See to see for your very own eyes how effective these machines are in protecting us!
            Google helps a lot when trying to inform oneself…
            There really is a lot of info out there (and even more opinion)

          • ANYTHING mandatory means you are a slave. What will you do when it’s a mandatory
            internal examination after the machine ‘finds’ something. I think they call it ‘areas of
            concern’…. you must love your slave-hood.

    • why do you own curtains? The only reason I can see for having curtains is if you have something to hide. What are you keeping in your bedroom that you’re so scared of us seeing, you criminal?

    • “When i’m in airports i just agree to everything the staff ask of me”…..get ready for your
      proctology/ anal scan, sheeple person.

  • It’s almost certainly safe, but there have been previous things they said were safe that have now been deemed unsafe. And opinion on the safety of keeping mobile phones in your pocket next to your reproductive organs is very much divided. Having this scanner go over them could pose a risk.

    And there have been many issues in the US, with several major airports ripping the full-body scanners out, and replacing them with “Gumby” scanners.

  • These are just about the illusion of doing things to protect the safety of air travel. It’s all theatre. Companies build these fancy machines. They sell them for money. Airports and governments look like they’re doing something, when it’s pointless.

    Everything I have ever read about these matters states that the reactionary nature of these types of procedure is the wrong way to go. You’re covering bases, so the non covered ones are easier to spot, plus people can always specifically work on work arounds to the systems.

    They start profiling arabs. You get an english muslim who doesn’t fit the profile. He tries to use his shoes as bombs. So they expand the profile and make everyone take off their shoes. So then you get a black muslim from africa who tries to put a bomb in his underpants. So now they use full body scanners. Reactionary is not the way to go.

    Whatever procedure you have, those so inclined. Which is so very few it’s not really a problem. But those people will just do something else. They know what you’re looking for.

    This idea of punishing people for not going through a pointless scan, making them miss their flights is absolutely disgraceful.

    A couple years ago the former head of airport security in Israel, who might know a thing or two about stopping terrorists getting on planes was going around talking about what a waste these scanners were and what the effective, proven means of security are. Which generally involved well trained staff. If the guy that designed the airport security in Israel thinks these are a waste, it might be worth listening to him. Far more experience dealing with terrorists over there than here.

    • Agree, i think the technology on the walk throughs are better anyway, and yes The gentlemen wh has the title of head of airport security in Israel is correct, i would feel more comfortable with the safety of people without using the new scanners. Money Money Money

  • A while back I wrote to my MP about this. I complained about it being a waste of money, that it did nothing to improve security and it was all just for show.

    His reply boasted about how much money they are spending on this.

    These people do not care at all about us, or what we think. Any communication we attempt with them gets delegated down to the lowest staff member available and responded to with whatever canned response they can find.

    When laws like this come into effect it really makes you distrust the government. Combine that with the laws being proposed by other departments, such as the Attorney General’s department, and it results in not only lost faith in our government, but verging on hatred towards it.

    Far to many civil liberties are being eroded in the name of security. We’re living in fear, not of the threat, but of what our government will do next. History will look back on this time (ie “Post 9-11”) in the same way as we look back on McCarthyism in the 50’s.

    I just hope we get some politicians with brains and guts soon to put an end to this disgusting period.

  • “Body scans won’t be compulsory for infants or children under 140cm in height”

    Why? To create a security loop hole as large as a 140cm high child?

    Just shows how ridiculous this really is. If they had a true suspicion of you as an individual, it wouldn’t matter whether they had the scanner or not. Agree with others that it’s just another “theatrical aid” to showing that they are doing something, anything, about security.

  • Angus, I always thought that the word ‘ask’ had some sort of option associated with it. Something like ‘asking’ if you take sugar in your coffee. Options being ‘No’, ‘1’, ‘2’, etc.

    What’s being described here, if there’s no option, is nothing more or less than an order. It may be phased politely, but it’s still an order.

    Like you, I don’t have an issue with the process, especially if it gets the queue moving faster, but lets not call it ‘asking’.

  • I don’t believe they scanners pose a real threat to health or anything, but I am annoyed that they have a no opt out policy, we shouldn’t be ordering people to do something, we aren’t slaves (or are we).

  • I have nothing against the body scanner, however I really hate customs when they open the body scanner, and only 1 stupid xray machine for everyone else when they have 12 of them usually. The body scanner process just takes forever. U get picked, you get read the rules. You get put into the machine. Machine stuffs up a couple of times.
    The queue.. OMG the QUEUE!! I nearly missed a couple of flights because customs were just too lazy to open up an extra x-ray machine to get traffic flowing. Half the staff was supposedly needed for the body scanner.

  • Theydont speed anything up at all. You have to stand in a specific spot with hands at a certain angle, which takes a few people who haven’t been through one before a little bit, then its scans pretty quick but you then have to wait 10-15 seconds for the “result” to show and because its so sensitive it picked up the press studs in my shirt so I had to get a pat down anyway. So did the 2 guys behind me.
    If a normal scanner can’t pick up a gun or a lethal knife then why are they there? Its just for show this new device.

  • I was ‘asked’ at Adelaide airport to participate in these scheme/scam while traveling with my husband. I was whisked out of the line and escorted to this machine so quickly my husband didn’t even know that I’d been selected by customs for yet another security check. He looked around after picking up his belongings from the x ray machine, to find I’d disappeared into thin air! So rude of customs, and confusing for anyone you are traveling with. when they’d finIshedwith me I found him wandering around very confused! I still don’t know exactly how much is revealed by this machine, but I don’t think it appropriate a male officer was reading the result, as was in my case.

  • Good info here, but not encouraging for those wanting to travel. I think Australians are accepting this invasion on our health too blindly. I don’t have privacy concerns, I would happily remove all my clothes in the airport than have my body subjected to these harmful machines. For a really well written story follow the link below and consider the wider issues here. I was planning to travel to the UK this year, but until a pat down option is offered, I will not be going anywhere outside of Australia.

  • Terahertz radiation has been shown to unravel DNA and create “bubbles” affecting gene expression with the possibility of leading to cancer. These millimeter scanners are not safe and are a real health risk. Simply dismissing this health risk and presuming that one has something to hide is an ignorant argument. Perhaps that tells something about Australians intelligence and their “cowboy” attitude towards things and human rights. Here is one of the articles from MIT there are plenty of others if one takes the time to look. There are plenty of other arguments to be made regarding the other 2 categories and i’m surprised that Australians do not have the balls to stand up to their own government i guess losing their guns is a form of castration. Since this mandatory body scanner requirement I will not be visiting Australia.

  • On Sun 21 Apr ’13 on a flight from HK to Melb via Adelaide, whilst in Adelaide on my way to transit lounge i was selected to be scanned by the body scanner. I said that i did not want to due to possible health concerns, but would not object to a manual body pat. I was advised that there was no choice and unless i complied, i’d be taken off the flight. I refused and was taken off the flight. All my luggage was thoroughly search, i was manually patted down – nothing illegal was found.

    Due to refusing the bady scan, i was automatically banned from flying for 24 hours, so i hired a car and drove to Melb, getting home at 9pm (and $200 dollars later – car hire plus petrol).

    All customs and federal police staff in Adelaide were friendly, but they said they had to follow regulations … .

    How much of this bullshit are we going to take?! Under the pretext of ‘security’ our rights are being taken away, government spends millions on irrelevant measures and Orwellian society is well on its way to fruition.

    Governments, companies and individuals use statistics in every day life. Statistics gives us an understanding and ability to see and forecast events based on pure mathematics. We know that ie if some is overweight by ie 30kg, this person will be ie 35% more likely to get diabetics or heart attack. Based on such statistical medical evidence, our doctors advise us to change diet, loose weight, exercise, etc. Why is statistics not used when it comes to security ?

    Statistically all airport bombings have been perpetrated by people of Muslims faith. They have come from different countries and are of different races, but they have all been Muslim. Why are we not targeting Muslims when it comes to airport security ? Why are all non-Muslims being collectively punished ?

    Would this be discrimination against Muslims ? No – it is a statistical probability for which all non-Muslims should not be inconvenienced and punished.

    I travel overseas 2 – 3 times per year. One time i saw an 80 year old Anglo-Saxon lady, who could hardly walk, being interrogated, asked to walk in / out numerous times through the basic metal scanner and then finally asked to take off her shoes! What insult and humiliation. Surely common sense must prevail at some stage !

    What shocks and disgusts me even more is seeing Muslims operate and man ‘security’ in Sydney airport. I am Jewish and i wear a scull cap and i can’t describe the hate that i see in the eyes of Syd security personnel when i have to travel through Syd.

    If Muslims constitute a high risk factor, based on statistics, why is security operated in Syd by Muslims ? A number of years ago a bus was blown up in the north of Israel near the city of Tzfat. Before blowing up the bus, Muslim homicide bomber noticed two Arab women on the bus. He approached them and let them know what was going to happen and advised them to get off the bus, which they immediately did. The bus drove off and blew up shortly. The two Arab women were nurses in working in Israeli hospital.

    I urge you all to take action – contact your MP’s and media and we must put an end to ongoing discrimination against all non-Muslims.

    • on 5th June i finally i got a reply from Mr Albanese office, which a) did not address the issue and b) contained misleading nonsense (it was in pdf form, so i can’t copy and paste it here). My reply to him is below. Those concerned about EMR radiation will find it interesting too as i explain how the “safe” Australian standard was derived at.

      “Dear Mr Robertson,

      Thank You for your reply to my email to Hon A Albanese MP.

      In your response to my email, you fail to address the issues raised and information that you provide is inaccurate.

      You state that body frisk is ‘intrusive and inferior’ as a security precaution compared to body scanners and therefore there is no opt-out option ie either a full body scan or a person will be taken off the flight (and not allowed to fly for 24 hours), as i’ve found out.

      This defies logic and goes totally against individual’s freedom of choice. In USA and other countries where body scanners operate, this choice is available as people do have health concerns when it comes to exposure to non-medial (and therefore non-essential) radiation. It then further defies logic, that whoever refused to go through the body scanner is taken off the flight, frisked anyway (remember – this is an invasive procedure!) and then escorted out of the airport?!

      Without being sarcastic, in case i’m misunderstood, your policy says frisking a person is invasive, therefore we’re not doing it, we’re using body scanners. But then your policy puts a person through the very invasive frisk anyway (as happened to me)! Why not just give the option of frisking to those who do not mind taking it ?

      (By the way, i have one complaint about my invasive frisk in Adelaide – a) it was conducted by a male and given a choice i’d have preferred a female and b) the bloke was not too good looking either!).

      You state that body scanners used here all comply to ARPANSA’s stringent standards. An uneducated layman may find comfort in these words, however as a BE (Electrical), I can tell you that Australian standards for safe exposure to EMR (electro magnetic radiation, which includes mobile phones and mobile towers) that you (and ARPANSA) refer to are based on purely thermal (heating) effects of microwave radiation. The standard was derived at by exposing animals to microwaves and finding a level of radiation which did not raise the temperature of tissue to uncomfortable levels ie circulating blood in our body cools the tissue just like water in car’s radiator. Then this level of ‘safe’ radiation was significantly reduced and proclaimed safe for humans!

      The standard for safe exposure to EMR never did and does not consider any non-thermal effects of radiation, such as damage to cells and DNA. It is very naive or misleading for your department to be quoting such rubbish.

      Furthermore in your reply you refer to an article ‘How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA’ by MIT Technology Review stating that the article refers to the ‘bad’ body scanners in the 300GHz – 3THz range and not the ‘good and safe’ 30 – 300GHz. Here, too, frequency range is not the issue (see paragraph above! If, by your assertion, low frequency is OK, then why is it that ultra-low frequencies are very bad for humans (affects nervous system).

      Finally, in my reference to a statistical fact (that all airline terror attacks / attempts world-wide, have been perpetrated by Muslims) and that screening based on statistics should be used in order not to inconvenience approx 97% of Australian population, you simply state that,’Racial / Religious profiling is not considered an effective or an appropriate methodology for aviation screening’?! How so? It works in Israel with stunning results. No airport attacks and speedy check-in for those who are statistically unlikely to carry out terror attacks. This is nothing more then common sense at work.

      You refusal to rely on statistics will be tested very soon. Statistically speaking, your party is finished. One only hopes that Liberals will bring some common sense with them too!”

  • I’ve recently had the great displeasure of being scanned at Cairns airport going to Japan. Unlike the US, you cannot opt out for any pat down and you are essentially coerced into this humiliating scan. The morbidly obese Australian security woman told me that the scanner was completely safe and emits radio waves, cannot see your naked body and that refusal would result in a 24 hour ban from airport flights. Another thing that bothered me was how “random” the search was. It seemed like I was intentionally targeted because of the shade of my skin and I asked them to prove that the search was done at random, they would not produce anything. I’m not sure what I will do next time to avoid being scanned next time. I’ll see if wearing a full suit will stop them for any more harassment in the future.

    All and all, I was completely taken by surprise as the Australian airport security was not what I was expected. And this is only a few months after NSW completely stripped their citizens of their right to silence. I am totally convinced now that Australia has moved in the direction of a police state and I believe losing our gun rights had something to do with it.

  • Airport security is a joke. My wife flew Melbourne to Sydney and back same day, 2 years ago. She was selected for patting down, and application of explosive test strips no less than FOUR times, during her trip.

    While walking her to the terminal in the morning, I was nearly hit by a bus running the red light some 5-10 seconds after it show “green man” pedestrian light outside Tullamarine domestic. I reported this to the airport. It was only the yelled “watch out” from someone on the opposite kerb that stopped me being hit. I reported this to the airport that evening via email, stated the precise time 8:35am… and asked them to investigate it, anticipating their much vaunted video surveilance could retrieve the registration number of the bus, and the event.

    I never got so much as an acknowledgement, let alone a resolution. But my wife still remembers the smug faces on the “concerned” security guards targeting her for a perve…. oh thats right, its a security check, four of them, 2 at Sydney, 2 at Melbourne.

    After all we have so many hijacked planes and bombs in Australia, can’t let those pretty women get away with it!

    (my emails on this reply, I could still retrieve the date and original email sent to Tullamarine, if anyone gave a flying hoot)

  • Are these scanners in use only for outward bound flights or are they also used on inbound international flights ? It would certainly speed up the process and stop a lot of contraband coming in. Just another way of ensuring that warm welcome that travellers just love about Australia.

  • Don’t believe the hype. I recently flew out of Adelaide on an international flight. I saw the body scanner but fortunately I wasn’t picked – I prefer not to have one purely on moral grounds. The thing that does concern me are the people they pick out. I saw two people being asked to undergo the scanner and both were young white males dressed casually, just as in the photo above. It is blatantly obvious they target these individuals based on some discriminative selection. Due to the invasive nature of the scan if they select a young female you would have feminists screaming ‘sexism’. BTW every security officer at this check point was old and female………you do the maths.

  • I will be voting with my dollar and NEVER flying from any Australian airport ever again. It is absolutely unacceptable that there is no opt-out option as there is in every other country in the world including USA, Europe, Asia etc. The radiation is beamed indiscriminately into the eyeballs and the genitals. These machines have no track record of long term testing. On top of that they cost millions. They could have used that money to employ 10 more staff to do proper pat downs instead. It is ridiculous. In Sweden they stopped using them because they are unreliable. So these authoritarian weirdos can go to hell. I will be making other travel arrangements.

  • Went through the coolangatta airport the other week and watched them picking out people for a scan. All the people I saw that were picked were young early 20s men. Last I heard females are just as likely to be concealing something or perhaps there was a woman checking the scans that day. Didn’t seem like random selection to me.

  • I refused the body scan today by telling them I had a shoulder injury and couldn’t lift my arm above the head.

    I also forced them to fetch the information sheet and because my glasses were in my bags I made the team leader read it to me. When he tried to give me a summarised explanation I forced him to read it out word for word.

    If these fascists want to conduct their useless security theatre they should be made to work for it. This has the added benefit of preventing them from “randomly selecting” other passengers while you are exercising your rights.

  • I was at Adelaide airport today with my parents. My Dad, whom tripped the metal scanner (all of a sudden these aren’t good enough?) denied being scanned by merely refusing the scan and requesting the wand, which they proceeded with and then we went on our merry way.

    I’m amazed at how outright shilly this article is, and @jjcoolaus has an answer ready and waiting every time to “quell dissent”.

    This article reeks of agenda and it’s sooo obvious! They’re trying to convince you to further give up your right to travel unimpeded and your right to privacy and your right to true and accurate, unbiased, medical and scientific studies. This is how they get people to accept things as normal. Tell them lies like you cant opt-out and 90% of the population will just accept it and not even consider the health risks nor the moral implications and certainly never the psychological warfare that’s being waged on them every day by sneaky methods such as this.
    And then there’s articles like this one written by people to convince others it’s “in their best interest” and “well…if you’ve got nothing to hide” types of fallacious arguments.
    My god it’s disgusting!

    You always have the right to say NO and more people need to learn that or else we may as well just skip along right now to our place in a George Orwell novel.

    The remedy is your non-compliance.

    Quote from another user:
    “You state that body scanners used here all comply to ARPANSA’s stringent standards. An uneducated layman may find comfort in these words, however as a BE (Electrical), I can tell you that Australian standards for safe exposure to EMR (electro magnetic radiation, which includes mobile phones and mobile towers) that you (and ARPANSA) refer to are based on purely thermal (heating) effects of microwave radiation. The standard was derived at by exposing animals to microwaves and finding a level of radiation which did not raise the temperature of tissue to uncomfortable levels ie circulating blood in our body cools the tissue just like water in car’s radiator. Then this level of ‘safe’ radiation was significantly reduced and proclaimed safe for humans!

    The standard for safe exposure to EMR never did and does not consider any non-thermal effects of radiation, such as damage to cells and DNA. It is very naive or misleading for your department to be quoting such rubbish.

    Furthermore in your reply you refer to an article ‘How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA’ by MIT Technology Review stating that the article refers to the ‘bad’ body scanners in the 300GHz – 3THz range and not the ‘good and safe’ 30 – 300GHz. Here, too, frequency range is not the issue (see paragraph above! If, by your assertion, low frequency is OK, then why is it that ultra-low frequencies are very bad for humans (affects nervous system). ”

  • Given that Australia is a nanny state it seems like it would be OK to randomly assign people to go through scanners at the airport. The random aspect of the scanning nullifies the point of it. Being oh so politically correct they put old ladies and kids of 140cm through the scanner. The only people to benefit from this security theatre are the manufacturers of the scanners. On the other hand it is terrible not to offer an alternative as they do in the US, the pat down, and to impose intrusion on a person’s privacy. The entire protocol of security theatre is to normalize intrusion to amplify the nanny state. It is not making us safer it is making us more accustomed to the erosion of civil rights and privacy.

  • welcome to our new world, a world created by the very type who now tell us that this is for our safety, kinda like hitler burning down the Reichstag and blaming the communists. As for the article, sounds like it was bought and paid for this article, telling us how to be nice compliant sheep, when I read it, I thought I was reading Animal Farm by George Orwell….et tu brutus

  • Ok, there may be two very big fat loopholes for those who are serious about avoiding the scan.

    1) the rules do not actually say that you cannot pass through security if you refuse a scan. What they say is that you cannot pass through security for 24 hours, if you refuse a scan. They cannot prevent you lawfully leaving the country, so the rule is intended to make it maximally inconvenient.

    So the solution may be to arrive more than 24 hours before the flight and be prepared to hang around the airport for at least that long. If you are prepared to wait that long they have to let you through, it seems.

    Warning: I am not sure if there are limits to how long before your flight you can ‘follow through’, but hopefully once you have checked in online it should be possible.

    2) Do not refuse the scanning procedure. Find some other pretext to stop you going into the scanner. Create a reasonable condition that they may find impossible to fulfill on the spur of the moment, perhaps. Such as you want them to supply you with complete scientific literature on all the studies surrounding scanner safety, so you can peruse them first and exercise informed consent. Another way might be to remove all your clothes in the security area, bar the legal minimum attire to avoid falling foul of decency laws. Thus you can say that you are not refusing the scan, but it now has absolutely no purpose, and hope that they don’t ask you to go through it anyway, which would at that stage simply be vindictive.

    If anybody has spotted any other loopholes, do let us know. There may be something in the law about also having a letter from the minister or something, but I am not sure what this means, you would have to ask a lawyer.

    Caveat: not legal advice, just brainstorming.

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