The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it plans to remove controversial airport body scanners. According to Bloomberg News
, the $5 million contract with OSI Services Inc.'s Rapiscan unit was ended as the company was unable to create software that was less revealing of the images portraying passenger bodies as they walked through the scanner.
A "rare win" for privacy advocates, Wired
described the decision.
One of the reasons why the plug was pulled on this highly controversial method of scanning is Congress had mandated the company come up with a more generic image by June 2013. The company reportedly confirmed that it was unable to meet this deadline and, as a result, TSA canceled this segment of the contract.
“TSA has strict requirements that all vendors must meet for security effectiveness and efficiency," the agency said in statement (courtesy The Hill
). "Due to its inability to deploy non-imaging Automated Target Recognition (ATR) software by the Congressionally-mandated June 2013 deadline, TSA has terminated part of its contract with Rapiscan."
These scanners have long been controversial with privacy advocates actively working to get the use of this changed. There have even been a couple of attempts at boycotting, such as the "National Opt-Out Day"
during Thanksgiving 2010. While the controversial machines remained in place these last couple of years, many privacy advocates continued the battle.
Scanning will still take place, with new scanners made by L-3 Communications; these machines used will show a generic outline of the passenger, not close to the detail the backscatter advanced imaging technology (AIT
“We won,” Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s executive director, said in an email to Wired