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Body Scans: Dangerous? Sharing Images: Criminal?

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Two new developments in the land of full-body scanners worth mentioning today. The first concerns radiation safety, while the second offers hope to passengers concerned about the images they leave behind at airport security checkpoints.

USAToday’s Alison Young reports that the TSA is under the gun to provide radiation inspection reports to back up its claim that the radiation dose is low, “equivalent to what a person receives during two minutes inside an airplane at cruising altitude.” It has been two months since lawmakers called for the reports to be made public. The TSA says the delay is to ensure the reports don’t contain any “sensitive security or privacy-protected information,” and that the reports should be released within the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, AOL News’ Sharon Weinberger covers a story about new proposed legislation that would make it a crime to share images taken by the full-body scanners. The possible amendment to the FAA re-authorization bill would make it an offense punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of $100,000. This effort to define and enforce some clear consequences is an important step for privacy-concerned passengers. And it’s much better than the TSA’s vague assertions that these images are not being used inappropriately, which is all we’ve gotten so far.

All this comes on the heels of the TSA announcement that it will soon be testing scanners that, instead of providing relatively graphic images of passengers’ bodies, produce generic, gender-neutral silhouettes.

While it may be cold comfort to those who still strongly oppose just about everything about the full-body scanners, verification of relative safety, combined with punishments for misusing images and far less explicit images to begin with, definitely puts passengers in a better spot than we were when the full-body scanners were originally unveiled.

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