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'Invasive' body scanners being removed from airports
January 20, 2013 at 3:33 PM

The Transportation Security Administration will remove controversial body scanners from airport security after OSI Systems Inc. didn’t update its machines’ software to make scanned images of airline passengers less revealing.

“It became clear to TSA they would be unable to meet our timeline,” Karen Shelton Waters the agency’s assistant administrator for acquisitions told Bloomberg News. “As a result of that, we terminated the contract for the convenience of the government.”

Privacy advocates have said that the images are offensive, particularly when children and the elderly are scanned.

“TSA will end a $5 million contract with OSI’s Rapiscan unit for the software,” Jeff Plungis reports for Bloomberg, “after Administrator John Pistole concluded the company couldn’t meet a congressional deadline to produce generic passenger images.”

Last year, 76 Rapiscan scanners were removed from the busiest U.S. airports. As Pro Publica reported, the TSA’s main concern was that the scanners slowed down security checkpoints. The remaining 174 machines will be taken out of airports gradually.

Body scanners from another manufacturer, L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., which met the TSA’s requirements, are now expected to be used in more airports.

L-3 scanning machines use millimeter-wave technology — radio frequencies that find metallic and non-metallic items — while Rapiscan uses “backscatter” technology that relies on X-ray radiation.

Scanners that used X-rays spread to more airports after Christmas Day of 2009, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight with explosives in his underwear.

But in July of 2010, the Electronic Privacy Information Center sued the TSA, saying that the scanners violated privacy laws and that the imagery was equivalent to a “physically invasive strip search.”

A sign informs travelers about Millimeter Wave Detection technology used in full body scanners at Midway Airport in Chicago. The scanners produce less-revealing images than those that use X-rays.

As Pro Publica reports, X-ray scanners worth about $14 million are now sitting in a warehouse in Texas.

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  • gabrielle_x
    January 20, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Some faith in humanity tentatively restored.

  • mamalusbear
    January 20, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Well, that's good news.  I'm always so scared that I'll be asked to go through those things with my baby...and I'm preggo too!

  • yourspecialkid
    January 20, 2013 at 3:39 PM

     About time.


  • Citygirlk
    January 20, 2013 at 3:43 PM
    I liked those things they made me feel safer.
  • MeAndTommyLee
    January 20, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    Great news!

  • la_bella_vita
    January 20, 2013 at 4:11 PM

     good news

  • MeAndTommyLee
    January 20, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Glad that never happened to you.  It was an insidious invasion of privacy.  And I'm not too sure it wouldn't hurt your baby.  The hell with that.  Naturally, they say it will not, but who really believes that?

    Quoting mamalusbear:

    Well, that's good news.  I'm always so scared that I'll be asked to go through those things with my baby...and I'm preggo too!

  • Sekirei
    by Sekirei
    January 20, 2013 at 4:14 PM


  • babie113
    January 20, 2013 at 4:15 PM
    Good I'm flying to the UK in March and it would suck to have to go through those.
  • punky3175
    January 20, 2013 at 4:17 PM
    So glad these are going away. I was lucky to not have to go through them while they were around since I do t fly much. I'm hoping to start traveling more for work soon though.

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