Eleven More Airports Will Be Exposed to Body Scanners
The Transportation Security Administration has announced 11 airports will receive body scanners in the coming months, increasing the total number of airports with machines to 29. Lauded as a "virtual strip search," the walk-through scanners use of advanced imaging technology to peek beneath passengers clothing has sparked public controversy over the past few months and left travelers with many questions. However, according to the TSA, the devices are a harmless way for officials to easily detect metallic and non-metallic weapons without physical contact with travelers.
Transportation Security Administration
Boston Logan International Airport was the first to receive a new scanner this week. One is due to debut in Chicago O'Hare any day now, with Charlotte Douglas, Cincinnati, For Lauderdale, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Mineta San Jose, Oakland, Port Columbus, and San Diego to soon follow suit.
The TSA purchased 150 scanners last September using $25 million in federal stimulus money. After the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt of a plane flying over Detroit, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ordered the agency accelerate installation. Currently, the TSA plans to acquire 300 more body scanners this year and 500 next year, according to a report released by USA Today.
Nineteen other airports currently use the technology, including Baltimore/Washington, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Tampa (see sidebar). The technology is also being used in hundreds of locations around the world, including Canada, France, and the United Kingdom.
As part of the process, passengers walk into the portal and assume different positions. They remain still for a few seconds while the technology creates an image, and then exit the opposite side of the machine. A screener in a private room views the images. According to the TSA, the machines "have zero storage capability and all images are automatically deleted from the system after they are reviewed by [a] remotely located security officer"-meaning images are not saved and cannot be printed.
The TSA reports "98 percent of passengers who encounter this technology during TSA pilots prefer it over other screening options." This includes passengers with medical devices that normally set off metal detectors, such as joint replacements, because the process is physically less-invasive than a pat-down.