Those controversial scanners we all feared were an invasion of our privacy look to be heading into permanent storage. The TSA recently announced they will store away 91 of their full body scanners which are worth $14 million. The reason was mostly due to privacy concerns.
The machines, originally called backscatters made the news when travelers became concerned that machines showed near nude images of travelers who went through the machines. The TSA attempted to include software in the machines that would illuminate the full figure images and visually show a more stick figured shape. Ultimately that software failed to produce the less invasive image.
New York’s JFK, LaGuardia, Chicago’s, O’Hare, LAX, Boston, Charlotte and Orlando airports pulled the machines late last month in order to speed up security line checkpoints. Airport officials are saying the move has worked and they are moving 180,000 more travelers a day.
The process of using the backscatter machines required a TSA agent to view the results in a separate room due to the near naked image that was displayed. The agent would then have to radio the TSA monitoring the passenger checkpoint whether they were cleared or not.
The 91 currently in storage were due to go to smaller airport before it was discovered the smaller airports didn’t have the room for them.
The machines were created to detect non-metallic weapons. They came into service shortly after the underwear bombing attempt on Christmas Day in 2009. Passengers were upset with the invasive image they displayed and were given the option of a physical pat down which was equally invasive to many.
Until the new software can be improved to offer a quicker, less invasive method, they will likely stay in storage.