New TSA scanner protects passengers' modesty

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has caved in to public outcry about its intrusive body scanners, and developed new software that affords paseengers a little more privacy.

Software now being tested on its advanced imaging technology (AIT) machines eliminates passenger-specific images, instead auto-detecting potential threat items and indicating their location on a generic outline of a person. The outline will be identical for all passengers, and if no potential threat items are detected, an 'OK' will appear on the monitor with no outline.

It should appear at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS), Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in the next few days.

"We are always looking for new technology and procedures that will both enhance security while strengthening privacy protections," says TSA administrator John Pistole.

"Testing this new software will help us confirm test results that indicate it can provide the same high level of security as current advanced imaging technology units while further enhancing the privacy protections already in place."

As with the current system, any areas identified as containing potential threats will require additional screening. But because there's no longer a passenger-specific image, says the TSA, there's no need for a separate TSA officer to view the image from another room - making screening more efficient.

The new software is being tested on millimeter wave AIT units currently in airports, but the TSA plans to test similar software on backscatter units.