Air-travelers, prepare to reclaim a bit of dignity: Backscatter X-ray machines, also known as “naked” scanners, are being removed from US airports because their manufacturer can’t figure out a way to make images less naked.
The US Transportation Security Administration will be removing the airport body scanners that privacy hounds have been barking at ever since their introduction, reports MSN. The “naked” scanners are often compared to unnecessary strip searches, because they produce a very revealing image of a person’s anatomy.
OSI Systems Inc. couldn’t figure out a way to write software that makes these “naked” scanners scan less naked images, so TSA is ending its $5 million contract with OSI’s Rapiscan unit since the company failed to meet a congressional deadline to produce generic passenger images, reports Bloomberg.
A total of 76 “naked” scanners were removed from major US airports last year, and the remaining 174 will be phased out in 2013 at the company’s expense.
“It became clear to TSA they would be unable to meet our timeline,” said Karen Shelton Waters, the agency’s assistant administrator for acquisitions. “As a result of that, we terminated the contract for the convenience of the government.”
Still, John Sanders, the TSA’s assistant administrator for security capabilities, said that the “naked” scanners aren’t being pulled because they’re unpopular, but because of the congressional deadline. OSI said that it wouldn’t be able to deliver satisfactory software until 2014, well beyond the deadline.
“We are not pulling them out because they haven’t been effective, and we are not pulling them out for safety reasons,” Sanders said. “We’re pulling them out because there’s a congressional mandate.”
And don’t celebrate just yet, kids. We don’t know what will replace the “naked” scanners, if anything. Plus, the odious “enhanced pat-down” is still in place, so far as we know. Personally, I don’t mind me an enhanced pat-down. I’ll do what I can for my country. I just wish they’d buy me dinner first, or something.
Are you happy to see the “naked” scanners phased out of airports?