TSA Finally Removing “Naked” Full-Body Scanners From Airports

Image from a back-scatter scanner

Image from a back-scatter scanner

Last fall, it was reported that the Transportation Security Administration was moving its controversial backscatter full-body scanners out of busier airports and moving them to smaller ones. Now, the agency says it is getting rid of these scanners altogether.

This only affects backscatter scanners, which use low amounts of ionizing radiation to produce images that see through a traveler’s clothing and produce images that reveal rather intimate details of the subject’s naked body. Millimeter wave scanners, which use a radio wave technology to produce stick-figure outlines of the subject and call out areas where dangerous material might be hidden, will still be used.

Bloomberg reports that the reason the backscatter scanners will no longer be used is that the manufacturer, Rapiscan, couldn’t develop software that would translate the scan results into something less R-rated.

Rapiscan will absorb the cost of removing its remaining 174 machines, which should be shipped off to the What The Heck Were You Thinking Institute For Idiotic Studies, but will apparently be installed in various other government agencies so that security guards can know what everyone in the building looks like naked.

The TSA had not actually purchased any new backscatter scanners from Rapiscan in a couple of years — choosing instead to purchase millimeter-wave machines that don’t use radiation and don’t require the operator to be in a separate room, thus expediting the process.