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Screeners No Longer Isolated

05/27/2011 -

TSA screening operators will no longer have to be isolated from passengers when using automated target recognition software due to increased privacy controls on the machines,reports Government Security News.

The operators of backscatter machines and millimeter wave technology had been required to be in a separate room from the passengers because of the very realistic photographic type image of the person's body. However, newer privacy protections on the newer machines mean that screeners using the newer machines can be in contact with passengers. Those using the older machines will remain isolated.

GSN reports that travelers will still have the option of having a physical screening rather than undergoing the whole body imaging from the machines that are referred to as "Advanced Imaging Technology" or AIT machines.

According to the article:

Also, TSA has taken steps to eliminate the possibility that images of a traveler’s body--whether the realistic version or the cartoon outline--can be captured from the imaging equipment, stored and removed from the airport.

“The ability to store images is not included on the software on AIT devices placed in airports,” says the DHS privacy impact assessment, “and there is no capability to activate image storage functions by anyone at the airport.”

DHS acknowledges that earlier versions of the AIT equipment did possess the ability to store images, and DHS had to ask manufacturers to “disable” that storage function. “Current versions of the software installed at airports do not include any storage function to disable, and eliminate the need to perform the disabling of the storage function,” explains the latest privacy impact assessment.

Additionally, the article states that the machines generate low levels of radiation.