TSA doing away with full-view body scans

The Transportation Security Administration is loading its full-body scanners with new software that will eliminate detailed and potentially graphic images of travelers.

In a July 20 announcement, TSA said that the software upgrade will enhance privacy for people going through millimeter wave Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines at airport security checkpoints.

According to the TSA, the new Automated Target Recognition (ATR) software automatically detects and highlights the location of possible threat items that resemble weapons against a generic human outline, rather than a detailed image of the person. Over the coming months, the agency will install the upgrade in all AIT machines in U.S. airports.

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The new software is a response to complaints and leaked images of AIT images of passengers’ naked bodies. TSA also said the software upgrade will also eliminate the need for a separate officer to view scanner images in a separate room.

Like the current version of AIT, if the upgrade detects a metallic or non-metallic item that may be a weapon or explosives, a TSA agent will then pat down the passenger.

“This software upgrade enables us to continue providing a high level of security through advanced imaging technology screening, while improving the passenger experience at checkpoints,” said TSA Administrator John Pistole in a statement.

In February 2011, TSA tested the new software at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Las Vegas McCarran International and Ronald Reagan Washington National airports.

There are currently about 500 imaging technology scanners at 78 airports across the U.S. While the upgrades apply only to millimeter-wave AIT units, the TSA plans to test similar software for its backscatter units in the fall.


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