ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - The full body scanners that create a nude image of passengers are being pulled from airports.
TSA contractor Rapiscan could not produce a software upgrade to protect the privacy of passengers in time to meet a Congressional deadline.
Lambert International Airport has four of these controversial body scanners. They detect potential threats by creating an x-ray image of passengers’ bodies, which are then viewed in a remote location. However, some of these x-ray images clearly show genitals, breasts and buttocks, causing privacy rights activists to call this ‘virtual strip search’ a violation of basic human rights. At Lambert, many passengers are glad to see these scanners go.
Whenever she flies, April Brautigam dreads landing in the security line with the body scanners that snap her naked photo. She says, “I did not like the idea that somebody could, you know, see everything going on. It’s embarrassing. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, so I’m glad to hear that they’re taking that away.”
Others say they’d sacrifice privacy for safety. Darren Gospodarski says, “I think they’re a nuisance, but if they can prove they’re a necessity then I’m all for it.” Ryan Brautigam adds, “It’s kinda important to make sure that we capture the bad guys, so to say, so even if you have to do something like that, it’s probably worth it.”
However, removing the scanners probably won’t pose a safety concern. There are 174 of these machines nationwide, and soon they’ll be replaced by millimeter wave scanners that also identify concealed threats, but use a generic stick figure instead.
It’s a change passengers may be more comfortable with, but it’s one that will cost millions. Airplane passenger Marcus Blassingame feels that’s unfortunate: “You know, there’s a lot of money being wasted in this country, but it happens.”
The nude-image body scanners that TSA is tossing cost $40 million to install. Right now these scanners make up about 20% of the total number of body scanners in U.S. airports.