The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has officially closed the books on the controversial “naked-image” full-body scanners being used at security checkpoints at America’s airports.
The TSA announcement comes after a Congressional mandate to make major changes to the devices and after a multitude of complaints from privacy and civil rights activists who opposed them.
The scanners were first rolled out to great fanfare in 2007, with the claim that the intrusive images would prevent any sort of contraband imaginable being brought onto airlines. Along with the “naked-image” scanners, the TSA also initiated a “pat down” policy for anyone who refused to be scanned, a policy that included touching of genitals, breasts, and buttocks of travelers.
Not long after the scanners were introduced, controversy erupted when the TSA launched an investigation into a citizen who refused the body scan and surreptitiously recorded the harassing interview he endured afterward, posting the viral to his blog where it went viral.
Opponents of the devices expressed fears that the scanned images could be disseminated among TSA agents and were far too explicit. Some also raised questions as to whether or not the radiation used by the machines was dangerous. In another case, an engineer named Jonathan Corbett posted a video showing how easy it was to defeat the scans.
In response to criticism, authorities slowly began to pull the machines from airports but continued using them at some locations.
In January, the TSA canceled its contract with the company that made the scanners claiming that Rapiscan had failed to deliver promised software upgrades.
Congress also weighed in on the controversial body scanners, mandating major changes to the devices with the 2012 Federal Aviation Administration. “I applaud TSA for becoming compliant with the law mandating that all AIT machines used by TSA are equipped with up-to-date privacy filters,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-MS, said in a statement. “Because of this action and congressional oversight, TSA will never again use machines to screen passengers that do not obscure their imagines while maintaining security.”