The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has heard your complaints — sort of. After a contentious fight over the near-naked images security agents were seeing on the other side of full-body scans at many of the nation's airports, the TSA has decided to replace a version of its scanners with slightly less scandalous — but equally weird — machines. As Bloomberg reports, OSI Systems will have its contract dropped because the company "couldn't write software to make passenger images less revealing." That means the TSA will be saying goodbye to the remaining 174 scanners, and hello to "60 machines manufactured by L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., the agency's other supplier of body scanners," which pump out images like the one you see at right.
The new, less revealing machines are meant to quiet complaints from travelers worried that the outline of their private parts were showing up in front of nearby TSA agents. "Many travelers were not happy that naked images of themselves were displayed to TSA officers in a nearby room," CNBC reported in October. The replacement scanners are meant to do that, as PCmag reported in 2011: "Getting rid of passenger-specific images means that a separate TSA agent will no longer have to watch scanner images in a separate room, which TSA said will make the airport security process more efficient." The new L-3 scanners, which were already used in some of the nation's less busy airports, pop out (slightly) less offensive "avatars," as The Los Angeles Times's Hugo Martin explains:
A second type of TSA scanner, built by L-3 Communications Holdings, uses radio waves and shows hidden objects on an avatar images on a screen -- not on an image of a passenger.
Well, if we're going to invest in machines that might not even be that good at catching terrorists, then a naked avatar of you is better than an actual naked you, right?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.