TSA Testing Privacy Upgrades for Full Body Scanners

Photo, L-3 Communications

In a lab in New Jersey, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security have begun testing software that would change the image airport screeners see when a passenger walks through a full body scanner.

The goal is to adjust the image to be more generic, to address privacy concerns about the so-called "naked" scanners.

"While there are strong policies already in place, TSA continues to explore additional privacy protections for imaging technology through Automated Threat Detection," TSA spokesman Greg Soule tells AOL Travel News.

The companies that make the scanners for U.S. airports, OSI Systems Inc.'s Rapiscan and L-3 Communications, have both been developing software upgrades that block views of passenger body parts in favor of a more cartoon-like, gender-neutral image.

L-3 already has its revised scanners in place in Europe at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.

The revisions "certainly address most of the privacy concerns, Peter Kant, a Rapiscan executive, says in an interview with Bloomberg. He says every passenger would appear on screens as an avatar of "a guy wearing a baseball cap."

But none of the enhanced privacy options have clicked with the TSA, so far.

"The technology as it stands today does not meet our detection standards," Soule says.

Work in the government lab in Atlantic City is designed to change that.

"We recently received this technology for testing and continue to work with vendors to ensure what's provided meets our detection standards," Soule says. "We set a standard for the industry to meet and are working with them to get the technology to where it needs to be."

There was no word on when such privacy software would be deployed.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently announced the 200th full-body scanner had been deployed, wiith another 800 to come online at airports nationwide by the end of next year.

Passengers can choose to opt out of a full-body scan in favor of a pat-down and screening with a hand-held device.

For more on full body scanners CLICK HERE.

Photo, L-3 Communications
Read Full Story