Airport security is getting somewhat less creepy. By June 2013, TSA agents will no longer have access to images of passengers' naked bodies.
On Friday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pledged to remove invasive Rapiscan body scanners from airports. According to the TSA Blog, because the Rapiscan scanners lack required software that protects passengers' privacy, the 174 backscatter units will be phased out—at Rapiscan's expense—by June 1.
The scanners, which capture pictures of passengers' bodies without clothing, lack privacy software that obscures graphic images of people. The software is called Automated Target Recognition (ATR), and it transforms clear snapshots of near-naked passengers into unrecognizable cartoon-like outlines, similar to stick figures.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told CNN, "It is big news. It removes the concern that people are being viewed naked by the TSA screener."
As a part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Congress requires that all airport full-body scanners employ ATR by June 1. Rapiscan, for whatever reason, couldn't meet that deadline. And so the TSA canceled the company's contract.
But the agency certainly isn't phasing out full-body scanners for good. The TSA promises to replace most of the Rapiscan machines with millimeter wave units that are equipped with ATR. But, at the very least, you can rest assured that TSA agents will no longer get to peek at your birthday suit.
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