New Airport Screening Machines To Launch Monday

Starting Monday, some passengers at Boston’s Logan Airport will have the honor and privilege of being the first to be scanned by a new machine that probably costs more than their house. And this is just the beginning of the Dept. of Homeland Security’s plan to install 450 of the sparkly new terrorist detectors in airports across the nation over the next year.

The scanners, valued at $170,000 each, are just the latest in the “x-ray specs” type of machine, that effectively sees through what passengers are wearing to detect any illicit objects hidden on (or in) their person.

At least some of the money to purchase the scanners came from 2009’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, because there’s nothing better at spurring economic growth than dropping nearly $200K apiece on airport scanners.

Since they obviously can’t run all the thousands of passengers at Logan through only 3 scanners, airport security will be using random testing, though those selected may opt for a pat-down over being scanned.

These new “backscatter” type machines are different — and one would hope improved — from the existing “millimeter wave” types already being used in various spots around the country.

Some of you might remember the story from a few weeks back of a millimeter wave machine in Denver being set off by an artificial breast.

Speaking of private parts, the makers of these new machines say the scanners use a software that obscures both face and groin of the scanned subject. So if your scanned torso ends up on the Internet, it’ll be hard to ID you.

Additionally, the machine doesn’t store the images, but discards them after the scan is cleared. And for even less awkwardness, the operator is out of sight from the passenger, so as to avoid hearing the snickering at my one’s love handles.

So where do y’all come down on these new machines — Are the privacy measures sufficient? And do you think these will be effective in stopping terrorism on planes?

U.S. airports expand passenger full-body screening [Reuters]