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TSA: We’ll eliminate naked pictures at checkpoints by June

Faced with public outcries about personal privacy, the Transportation Security Administration has been working for months to alter its airport full-body scanners so that they no longer show TSA agents essentially a nude picture of passengers. And that process will soon be finished, the agency says.

The full-body scanners use two types of technology—one is called x-ray backscatter, from Rapsicon; the other is millimeter wave, from L3—and both essentially allow TSA agents to see through clothing. Needless to say, many people thought this was not appropriate, even with the demands of security.

So TSA asked its vendors to alter the machines so that they were not so specific in what they showed. The agency wanted a software fix called Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) that would display simply a generic outline of the human body instead of all the graphic details.

Now the agency said in its blog that all of L3’s millimeter wave scanners have made the fix. But Rapsicon, even though it was given an extension to June 1, 2013, has not come up with a solution that will meet the deadline, TSA said—so it is removing all Rapsicon scanners from its airport security checkpoints around the country.

They will be replaced with millimeter wave units, TSA noted. “By June 1, 2103, travelers will only see machines which have ATR that allow for faster throughput. This means faster lanes for the traveler and enhanced security.”

The agency noted that even with ATR in place nationwide, passengers still have the option to avoid a body scan by going through a personal pat-down instead.

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