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TSA Says New Scanner Software Produces Generic Image

Technology makes airport security more private, but still identifies where a weapon or contraband is located on a person.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing new scanner software designed to make full body images at airport security more private, but still identify where a weapon or contraband is located on a person, the agency says.

The TSA began testing the new software at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport on Feb. 1, 2011, and plans to test the scanners at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

The “automated target recognition” (ATR) technology allows the TSA to maintain high levels of security while doing the best possible job at protecting the privacy of all air travelers, TSA Administrator John Pistole said in a written statement. The TSA is “always looking for new technology and procedures that will both enhance security while strengthening privacy protections,” he says.

The new software will automatically detect potential threat items and indicate their location on a generic outline of a person that will appear on a monitor attached to the ATR unit. The generic outline will be identical for all passengers. If no potential threat items are detected, an “OK” will appear on the monitor with no outline.

However, as with current scanners, if a traveler is identified as containing potential threats, additional screening—such as a pat down—will be required, TSA says.