June 15, 2024

RTGnThe harshest critics labeled them “virtual strip searches.” Airport passenger screening that produced particularly realistic full-body images using backscatter technology. Others also expressed health concerns about low doses of radiation from the X-rays underpinning those scans. Others – like me – opted out completely and took our chances waiting for a pat down. Well, it’s all over now as the Transportation Security Administration says it has met a June 1 deadline to remove all 250 backscatter machines from U.S. airports. Travelers will still go through other full-body scans that rely on a system that uses radio waves and produces less detailed body imaging. The millimeter wave machines raise fewer privacy and almost no health concerns. The TSA maintained that the backscatter machines, manufactured by Rapiscan Systems, were safe and effective, but Congress voted to require all body scanners to have privacy-protecting software, and the TSA announced in February it was phasing out backscatter systems because they could not meet the new standard. Most countries do not use body scanners, by the by, preferring to use a combination of metal detection and technology that can actually identify explosives.

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