TSA Tests New Body Scanner

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The Transportation Security Administration is testing new software that transmits more modest images to airport personnel as passengers walk through body scanners.

The software, currently being tested at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, eliminates passenger-specific images, replacing them with the outline of a person’s figure. The TSA also plans to test the software at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National airport (DCA) in the near future.

According to the TSA, the software, which began testing in late 2010, is meant to address privacy concerns expressed by passengers as full-body scanners increasingly became an airport staple last spring.

"We are always looking for new technology and procedures that will both enhance security while strengthening privacy protections," a TSA spokesperson said in a blog post announcing the trial on Tuesday.

The current and controversial Advanced Imaging Technology software, used in about 78 airports nationwide, projects radio waves over an individual’s body to transmit a blurred image to a remotely-located TSA officer who monitors the scans for safety threats.

Travelers reluctant to pass through could opt for the equally-controversial pat-down procedure introduced in October.

The new software, however, is designed to automatically detect potential threats and show their location on a generic image of a person. If there are no potential threats, then no outline is projected on the screen. TSA personnel merely receive a clearance message to allow the passenger through. See what the both options look like on the TSA blog.

Each image is on a monitor that is attached to the scanner in public view . There is no longer an remotely located officer monitoring scans in a separate room.

The TSA did not say whether or not the new software would also eliminate the pat-down procedure.

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