Bruce Schneier has rounded up all the links on the backscatter X-ray scanners and related issues. Bullet points:
- The health risks of the scanners are overblown.
- The claims that the scanning/groping will make flying safer are even more overblown.
- The deployment of these scanners has more to do with lobbying than with a rational evaluation of the best way to make flying safer.
In this piece (not yet linked by Schneier), TSA screeners surveyed say that conducting the more invasive patdowns makes their job worse. My inclination in the face of this new scanning is to request the patdown for exactly that reason. Walking through the machine imposes a cost on the person being scanned, and no cost on the person doing the scanning. The patdown sucks for the person conducting the patdown and the person being patted down. Seems more fair to me.
As far as predictions go, my guess is that the money has been spent and we are not likely to see the government back off on the scanning. As irritated as people are now, they’ll eventually come to accept it, and it will become one more permanent contributor to the horrible experience that air travel has become.