Transportation Security Administration said Friday that it would begin removing the controversial full-body scanners produced by Rapiscan that produce revealing images of airline travelers beginning this summer.
What is the technology used in full-body scanners.
According to Epic.org – a public interest research center in Washington – The technology “... uses high energy x-rays that are more likely to scatter than penetrate materials compared to lower-energy x-rays used in medical applications. Although this type of x-ray is said to be harmless it can move through other materials, such as clothing.”
When passengers go through the screening machine, a high energy x-ray beam rapidly covers them with the backscattered x-rays forming a highly realistic image. The signal strength of detected backscattered X-rays from a known position then allows a highly realistic image to be reconstructed. In the case of airline-passenger screening, the image is of the traveler's nude form. The image resolution of the technology is high, so the picture of the body presented to screeners is detailed enough to show genitalia. The article contains images of what screeners actually see but were deemed too detailed to include in this article. epic.org/privacy/airtravel/backscatter/
And that’s why the Rapiscan machines are being removed.
The TSA is shifting to Automated Target Recognition (ATR) software and Rapiscan can not reconfigure its software and machines to comply with the regulation.
With ATR, the TSA officer no longer see an actual image, but rather an outline. If there is an area that provokes concern, it is indicated on this generic figure identical for all passengers. If no potential threat items are detected, an "OK" appears on the monitor and the passenger is cleared.
Congress mandated as a part of the The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that all TSA body scanners should be equipped with ATR by June 1, 2012 (There has since been an extension to June 1, 2013). Rapiscan was unable to fulfill their end of the contract and create the ATR software that would work with backscatter units.
The TSA further reports that: By eliminating the image of an actual passenger and replacing it with a generic outline of a person, passengers are able to view the same outline that the TSA officer sees. Further, a separate TSA officer is no longer required to view the image in a remotely located viewing room. By removing this step of the process, screening is more efficient and throughput capability of the technology is improved.
Albuquerque International Sunport Airport is one of the airports using millimeter-wave technology and not one of the x-ray machines, however, if you fly in or out of other airports you may still go through an x-ray type machine. But your body will no longer be seen. Check out what technology is used at airports around the country.