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Privacy Wins: TSA Removes Naked-Image Scanners from Airports

airport security TSA

Most of us are probably familiar with the Rapiscan full-body, naked-image scanners. They were very controversial when they were first introduced at airport security checkpoints, and continued to be in the forefront of conversations and meetings at the TSA and in Congress.

They came about in response to the “underwear bomber” who attempted to “blow up Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. He ¬†was able to get through security and onto the plane, but the underwear bomb he was wearing failed to detonate. Instead, it caught fire, severely burning [the bomber],” reported ABC News.

Because of how this bombing attempt was carried out, the TSA deemed it necessary to find a safe and effective means of detecting explosives under people’s clothing. Rapiscan’s full-body scanner seemed to accomplish that task, but it required the traveling public to give up a measure of privacy as a result.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “The Rapiscan scanner uses low-level X-rays to create what looks like a naked image of screened passengers to target weapons hidden under the clothes.”

However, the TSA has recently cancelled their contract with Rapiscan. The naked-image scanners will be removed from about 30 airports and are being replaced by scanners that offer more privacy but can accomplish the same purpose.

“A second type of TSA scanner, built by L-3 Communications Holdings, uses radio waves and shows hidden objects on an avatar images on a screen — not on an image of a passenger,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Personally, the Rapiscan scanners really didn’t bother me. I think most of us understand the need for security. Life just isn’t the same as it was before 9/11. We don’t have the same privacy expectations.

What do you think?