TSA Makes Changes To Full Body Scanning


The TSA announced Friday that it will remove Rapiscan full body scanners from airport security stations, but leave others, as it works toward a congressionally mandated deadline to assure the devices produce less personally revealing imagery. The mandate, effective in June 2013, affects both types of body scanners currently used in the U.S. — X-ray (or backscatter) devices produced by Rapiscan, and millimeter-wave devices produced by L-3 Communications. When used to scan passengers, both types of devices produce images largely recognizable as naked bodies (and whatever they might be carrying). The TSA’s action to remove only Rapiscan devices is based on its conclusion that only L-3 will meet the deadline to create software that presents more generic imagery of a human form to the machine’s operators, while still fulfilling its security function. The TSA will reportedly still use Rapiscan products at some government facilities.

By the numbers, the TSA removed 76 Rapiscan machines from airports last year and will remove the remaining 174, Bloomberg News reported, presumably before June. Under an agreement with the TSA, Rapiscan will pay for those removals and the TSA may redeploy the devices at government facilities. The TSA will reportedly use 60 of L-3’s millimeter wave scanners at the nation’s busier airports. They will reportedly be equipped with software that will display passengers as generic shapes (as opposed to naked figures) while highlighting foreign objects on their bodies. The TSA’s ongoing relationship with Rapiscan and its parent company OSI will continue in spite of concerns raised by Congressman Mike Rogers of Alabama, who in November said the company “may have attempted to defraud the government by knowingly manipulating an operational test.” Rapiscan denied the allegation.