The controversial full-body airport scanners that reveal too much of the human anatomy are gone from America's airports, leaving machines that produce a generic outline instead of a naked image.
In a letter to members of the House Homeland Security Committee that was released Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration said Friday that scanners that used a low-dose X-ray are being lifted because the company that made them, OSI Systems Inc., couldn't fix the privacy concerns. The move follows a congressional mandate and opposition from privacy-rights activists.
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"As of May 16, 2013, all AIT units deployed by TSA are equipped with (the body-masking) capability
. Additionally, TSA's procurement of next generation AIT requires" the same body-obscuring capability, TSA Administrator John Pistole wrote in the letter, according to The Hill.com.
The scanners debuted in 2007, and their use rapidly increased after a man with explosives snuck onto a plane headed for Detroit on Christmas day in 2009.
At first, both types of scanners showed travelers naked, with the thought that security workers could detect metallic objects like guns, as well as nonmetallic items like plastic explosives. The scanners also displayed highly revealing images of a passenger's body. In response, the U.S. Congress issued an order that the scanners produce a more generic image or be removed by June.
The displaced machines will be used by other government, such as military bases, where privacy isn't a concern, OSI chief financial officer Alan Edrick told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Last year, the TSA said they spent $40 million on the Rapiscan machines and another $100 million on the less-invasive model. The government bought about 800 machines for use at 200 U.S. airports.
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