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Bye-Bye to the Airport TSA Backscatter Machines

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Appetite For a Change page.

 Rapiscan "backscatter" screening machines, which project x-ray beams onto your body using ionizing radiation, are being removed from U.S. airports.

 Since ionizing radiation causes DNA damage that can lead to cancer, and its effects are cumulative, even the supposedly small levels of exposure from the backscatter machines was concerning... so much so that the European Commission banned x-ray body scanners that use backscatter radiation from airports back in 2011.

 But it was privacy, not safety concerns, that prompted the U.S. removal... and despite what many media outlets are reporting, the same type of machine, made by a different manufacturer, may be showing up in Rapiscans' place.

Privacy Concerns Prompt Removal of Rapiscan Backscatter Machines

 The Rapiscan backscatter machines create a detailed reflection of your body that is displayed on a monitor viewed by a remotely located TSA officer. Because the pictures are so detailed, they earned the moniker "naked body scanners" and have prompted retaliations from privacy rights activists, who liken the pictures to a "virtual strip search."

 To remedy this, as part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, all U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) body scanners were supposed to be equipped with a type of software called Automated Target Recognition (ATR), which turns the graphic images into generic outlines of a human body, by June 2012

 This was later pushed back to June 2013. Rapiscan was unable to meet this Congressional mandate, and as a result TSA terminated their contract with the company. 


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