We’ve come a long way, baby, and it seems the days of worrying over whether or not Transportation Security Administration agents were snickering at your nude image on an airport scanner are over. The backscatter scanners are gone — so now we can get back to worrying about what kind of funk we’re picking up in our socked feet during the security line walk instead.
The TSA told Congress in a letter yesterday from TSA head John Pistole that as of May 16, the agency was setting up airport scanners with software called Automatic Target Recognition. That software only shows generic images of travelers, whereas the offending Advanced Imaging Technology, or backscatter technology, had ticked everyone off with its somewhat detailed nudies.
The TSA had a June 1 deadline and it beat it, as all 250 airports with backscatter scanners have been effectively switched out for the new technology. You’ll still walk through a full-body scan that uses radio waves, but there likely won’t be as many privacy concerns and probably no health concerns, CNN reports.
“As of May 16, 2013, all [Advanced Imaging Technology scanners] are equipped with ATR capability,” Pistole wrote in his letter. “Additionally, TSA’s procurement of next generation AIT requires ATR capability.”
Previously, the TSA had backed the backscatter machines, saying they were safe and effective and denying that its agents were ogling anyone’s private bits. But back in January, Congress voted to require that all scanners have privacy-protection software. The TSA announced in February that it would start phasing out the backscatter software because it couldn’t meet that standard.