On Wednesday, the Transportation Security Administration announced an end to naked images of travelers being produced by the current full-body scanners. Removed with a software update, the scanners will now show a generic outline of the traveler and target specific points on the body that need to be checked before the passenger can board a plane. This eliminates the need for a second TSA officer to view the previously naked images in a separate room aware from the public eye.
The software upgrade was initially being tested in Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas airports since early February. The upgrade will be installed on all millimeter wave Advanced Imaging Technology machines within the next two months as well as backscatter machines, approximately 500 units in total. Passengers will now be allowed to see the images as they pass through the checkpoint. The push to improve the scanning software is a result of a lawsuit that the TSA was fighting in March. A privacy group was challenging TSA’s right to store, record and transmit naked images of passengers. In February 2011, the Senate approved an amendment that brings criminal charges against anyone that transmits photos or video of the naked images.
The full-body scanners have been under constant scrutiny from the media since rolling out to major airports. The public has raised concerns of the levels of radiation emanating from the scanners as well as the aggressive nature of TSA pat downs. In April, an invasive search of 6-year old Anna Drexel went viral on YouTube and caused outrage among the public. The TSA agent was recorded putting her fingers inside the girl’s waistband as part of the search. The video even caused U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah to propose legislation restricting searches of children under 13 years old.