Those airport scanners with their all-too revealing body images will soon be going away.
The Transportation Security Administration says the scanners that used a low-dose X-ray will be gone by June because the company that makes them can’t fix the privacy issues. The other airport body scanners, which produce a generic outline instead of a naked image, are staying.
The government rapidly stepped up its use of body scanners after a man snuck explosives onto a flight bound for Detroit on Christmas day in 2009.
At first, both types of scanners showed travelers naked. The idea was that security workers could spot both metallic objects like guns as well as non-metallic items such as plastic explosives. The scanners also showed every other detail of the passenger’s body, too.
The TSA defended the scanners, saying the images couldn’t be stored and were seen only by a security worker who didn’t interact with the passenger. But the scans still raised privacy concerns. Congress ordered that the scanners either produce a more generic image or be removed by June.
On Thursday Rapiscan, the maker of the X-ray, or backscatter, scanner, acknowledged that it wouldn’t be able to meet the June deadline. The TSA said Friday that it ended its contract for the software with Rapiscan.
The agency’s statement also said the remaining scanners will move travelers through more quickly, meaning faster lanes at the airport. Those scanners, made by L-3 Communications, used millimeter waves to make an image. The company was able to come up with software that no longer produced a naked image of a traveler’s body.
The TSA will remove all 174 backscatter scanners from the 30 airports they’re used in now. Another 76 are in storage. It has 669 of the millimeter wave machines it is keeping, plus options for 60 more, TSA spokesman David Castelveter said.
Not all of the machines will be replaced. Castelveter said that some airports that now have backscatter scanners will go back to having metal detectors. That’s what most airports used before scanners were introduced.
The Rapiscan scanners have been on their way out for months, in slow motion.
The government hadn’t bought any since 2011. It quietly removed them from seven major airports in October, including New York’s LaGuardia and Kennedy airports, Chicago’s O’Hare, and Los Angeles International. The TSA moved a handful of the X-ray scanners to very small airports. At the time, the agency said the switch was being made because millimeter-wave scanners moved passengers through faster.
Rapiscan parent company OSI Systems Inc. said it will help the TSA move the scanners to other government agencies. It hasn’t yet been decided where they will go, said Alan Edrick, OSI’s chief financial officer, in an interview.
Scanners are often used in prisons or on military bases where privacy is not a concern.
“There’s quite a few agencies which will have a great deal of interest” in the scanners, Edrick said.
OSI is taking a one-time charge of $2.7 million to cover the money spent trying to develop software to blur the image, and to move the machines out of airports, Edrick said.
The contract to change the software on the scanners came under scrutiny in November when the TSA delivered a “show cause” letter to the company looking into allegations that it falsified test data, which the company denied. On Thursday it said final resolution of that issue needs approval by the Department of Homeland Security.
The agreement with the TSA is an indication that OSI Systems will be cleared of the issues raised by the agency, Roth Capital Partners analyst Jeff Martin wrote on Friday. OSI shares soared $2.37, or 3.5 percent, to close at $70.02.
Besides the scanners being dropped by TSA, Hawthorne, Calif.-based OSI Systems makes other passenger scanners used in other countries, as well as luggage scanners and medical scanners.
More Related Stories
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- DHS admits "impossible" to control 3D-printed guns
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to talk peace
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11