The “nude scanners” are gone.
The full-body scanners that used X-rays to create what look like nude images of passengers have been packed away and removed from airports across the country. The 250 or so machines were removed about two weeks ago, before the June 1 deadline set by Congress.
But privacy advocates aren’t satisfied, noting that the Transportation Security Administration is still using full-body scanners that employ a different technology.
“They’ve never made a case that these scanners are better than using metal detectors or swabs to detect the use of explosives,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a research center that sued the TSA in 2010 over the use of all full-body scanners.
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The TSA now relies solely on millimeter-wave scanners, which previously generated similar nude images but have been upgraded to portray a generic figure on which they point out objects concealed on travelers’ bodies. The scanner is made by L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. of New York.
The X-ray scanners made by Rapiscan Systems in Torrance were removed after Congress required all airport scanners to use privacy-protecting software, such as the technology used by L-3. Rapiscan did not create the software for its X-ray scanners.
Rotenberg said he worries that the L-3 scanners may also be creating and keeping digital images of passengers. “There are lingering questions about whether the millimeter-wave devices are retaining images,” he said.
A TSA spokesman said the scanners are programmed not to retain digital images.