I flew from Portland (PDX) -> San Diego (SAN) this week. I was greeted by one of the controversial full-body millimeter wave scanners. Unsure of the privacy and health implications of the scanners, I decided to opt out, and get a manual pat down instead. I was somewhat surprised when my mom whipped out her iPhone and started filming it… good instinct!
She filmed it until they told her to turn it off. At one point I had seen on the TSA website that it was legal to film the pat downs, but I didn’t contest it at the time as I hadn’t done my homework properly.
Opting out of the scanners is your right; just ask, it doesn’t have to be a confrontation. In my experience the people were friendly and professional, so I don’t have any particular complaints about that. It’s kinda sad that they work for one of the most-hated government organizations in the country, though…
With regards to the TSA and catching “terrorists”, I’m not sure how effective the post-9/11 scanning techniques are, but it does seem like it’s a bit over the top; it’s both a huge pain in the ass for travelers and a huge cost to tax payers (and I’m not sure if it’s worth the billions we spend).