The Rapiscan Systems full-body scanning machines that travelers see at airports will be gone by June 1, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
TSA announced its decision recently to remove the scanners — which produce graphic images of fliers — from security checkpoints, after Rapiscan Systems admitted to being unable to produce software that would turn exposed images into generic figures. These machines, also called backscatter machines, use x-rays to produce the images, according to CNN.
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08), U.S. House Transportation Security Subcommittee Chairman, released a statement last week that said he is pleased with the TSA’s decision.
“… by removing the intrusive Rapiscan body scanners, TSA and Administrator John Pistole are working to protect the privacy of travelers and are seeking to remedy a longstanding complaint,” Hudson said.
According to CNN, the TSA dismissed privacy concerns in 2004 and 2005 but also tried to remedy those concerns by placing TSA officers who were viewing the scanners in remote locations. They also gave travelers the right to choose to be patted down and deny the screening.
Travellers will still have to go through an optional full-body scanning machine, but these machines will use a new software called Automated Target Recognition software which will produce a generic figure that is identical for all passengers, according to the TSA.
The new ATR machines, called millimeter wave machines, use radio waves to produce the generic figures, according to CNN.
Concerns about the expense of removing the Rapiscan machines being placed on the taxpayers have surfaced.
Hudson said that he will see if the removal of the machines will result in “a waste of taxpayer dollars, and I will work with Chairman McCaul and Administrator Pistole to determine the causes of this issue and what we can do to address any underlying problems.”
A statement by the TSA Blog said that all Rapiscan Advanced Imaging Technology units “… will be removed by Rapiscan at their expense and stored until they can be redeployed to other mission priorities within the government.”
The TSA blog is sponsored by the Transportation Security Administration to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process.
The TSA currently has 174 backscatter machines in use at 30 airports and has another 76 unites in storage. The millimeter wave machines are being used in 170 airports, according to CNN.
A statement on the TSA blog said, “… most of the backscatter units being removed will be replaced with millimeter wave units. The millimeter units will be moved from the inventory currently deployed at other airports and from an upcoming purchase of additional millimeter wave units.”
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.