Privacy enhanced at airport security

Privacy enhanced at airport security
August 25, 2011, 03:54 AM

Passengers going through security checkpoints at San Francisco International Airport will no longer be subject to those potentially embarrassing body-specific images as the TSA has added new software to its imaging machines for privacy purposes.

The Transportation Security Administration has updated its Advanced Imaging Technology machines to now detect items that could pose a potential threat using a generic outline of a person rather than the high-detail and controversial “naked” images the TSA has used in the past three years at security checkpoints.

The TSA plans to add the software at 78 airports nationwide.

The software made its debut at SFO yesterday.

“Our top priority is the safety of the traveling public, and TSA constantly strives to explore and implement new technologies that enhance security and strengthen privacy protections for the traveling public,” TSA Administrator John Pistole said in a prepared statement. “This software upgrade enables us to continue providing a high level of security through advanced imaging technology screening, while improving the passenger experience at checkpoints.”

By eliminating the image of an actual passenger and replacing it with a generic outline of a person, passengers are able to view the same outline that the TSA officer sees. Further, a separate TSA officer will no longer be required to view the image in a remotely located viewing room. In addition to further enhancing privacy protections, TSA officials say this new software will increase the efficiency of the screening process and get passengers through the security devices quicker.

The new software automatically detects potential threats and indicates their location on a generic, computer-generated outline of a person that appears on a monitor attached to the imaging machine. If a potential threat is detected, the area will require additional screening. If no potential threats are detected, an “OK” appears on the monitor with no outline, and the passenger is cleared.

TSA worked with the Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate and private industry to develop the new software.


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