TSA removing body scanners that produced near naked images

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- After years of concerns and controversy, the TSA has announced it’s removing the full-body scanning machines that critics say produced near nude images of people.

A spokesman says the machine’s maker, Rapiscan Systems, cannot upgrade its software to create more generic images, so the contract with the company has been canceled.

As a result, 174 Rapiscan machines will be removed nationwide, including 18 machines at Sky Harbor and two machines at Mesa Gateway.

“It’s good to see we’re getting a little privacy back!” said traveler Marci Lombino of Chandler.

“I do think it’s like a personal invasion, so the less they see, the better I feel,” commented Michael Pembroke, at Sky Harbor to pick up his mother Friday afternoon.

The TSA said privacy concerns prompted the agency to make the move.  Congress set a June deadline for Rapiscan to modify the images to make them more generic, but the TSA said it became clear that the company could not fix the issue.

However, the newer body scan machines, with new software which produce a cartoon like image, will remain.

The TSA issued a statement Friday, saying:

“TSA has strict requirements that all vendors must meet for security effectiveness and efficiency.  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.”

“By June 2013 travelers will only see machines which have ATR that allow for faster throughput. This means faster lanes for the traveler and enhanced security.  As always, use of this technology is optional.”

A spokesman said the older machines are expected to be removed by May.

While many travelers are cheering the change, others say they would rather put security over modesty.

“It’s for our own safety, so I don’t see a big issue with it, myself,” said Jim Batzel.