Passing through body-scanners at airports is not mandatory: TSA

Passing through body-scanners at airports is not mandatory: TSA

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 12 / Trend T.Konyayeva /

Passing through the whole body scanning devices - so-called body-scanners is not mandatory at the U.S airports, U.S Transparent Security Administration (TSA) representative Andrea McCauley said.

"Basically, the technology is not mandatory, TSA allows all passengers who wish or feel uncomfortable to opt out and receive a pat down instead," McCauley said.

After a recent attempt to bomb a passenger plane en route from Amsterdam to Detroit, a number of European countries intend to introduce so-called "stripped" scanners at airports. Those U.S. airports, which have not yet implemented this system, also plan to use these devices forming a three-dimensional holographic image of the human body without clothes using 40-millimeter waves. This technology can effectively determine metallic and nonmetallic objects posing a threat, including weapons, explosives and other items that the passenger carries on itself without physical contact.

However, several human rights organizations sharply criticized the decision to apply body scanners.

According to McCauley, TSA is seriously considering the passengers' concerns on the use of body scanners at airports.

Founded after the attacks of September 11, 2001, TSA provides full information describing the entire procedure of scanning on its web site to reduce concern.

According to the information from this site, TSA piloted state-of-the-art advanced imaging technologies since 2007. Currently, there are new imaging technology units in use at 19 airports. Six machines are used as primary screening at six airports and 34 machines are used for secondary, or random screening, as an alternative to a pat down at 13 airports.

The key stumbling block in disputes on how it rightful to use body-scanners is inviolability of passenger privacy. As to privacy, when going through the scanner, the officer assisting the passenger never sees the image the technology produces while the officer viewing the produced image is remotely located, in a secure resolution room and never sees the passenger.

Besides, to provide additional protection of passenger privacy the technology blurs all facial features and backscatter has an algorithm applied to the entire image. All machines are delivered to airports with storing, printing and transmitting functions disabled. Each image is automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer.

Officers evaluating images are not permitted to take cameras, cell phones or photo-enabled devices into the resolution room.

Multiple signs informing passengers about the technology, including sample images, are displayed at the security checkpoints, in front of the advanced imaging units.

Passengers with joint replacements or other medical devices that would regularly alarm a metal detector often prefer this technology because it is quicker and less-invasive than a pat down, the TSA site says.

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