Washington: Controversial full body scanners will be removed from the US airports amid widespread privacy concerns.
The scanners, which to the discomfort of many travelers had become a part of security screening at airports in the past few years, would be done away with by June, a federal agency announced yesterday.
This is primarily because the company which had installed such scanners on airports has not been able to deploy non-imaging Automated Target Recognition (ATR) software as Congressionally-mandated, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said.
"Due to its inability to deploy non-imaging Automated Target Recognition (ATR) software by the Congressionally-mandated June 2013 deadline, TSA has terminated its contract with Rapiscan," TSA said.
"By June 1, 2013 travelers will only see machines which have ATR that allow for faster throughput. This means faster lanes for the traveler and enhanced security. As always, use of this technology is optional," it said.
According to a TSA blog posting, Congress had mandated that all TSA body scanners should be equipped with ATR by June 1, 2012. This was extended till June 1, 2013.
"At this point, all Millimeter wave units have been equipped with ATR, but even with the extension to 2013, Rapiscan was unable to fulfill their end of the contract and create the ATR software that would work with backscatter units."
"As a result, TSA terminated the contract with Rapiscan in order to comply with the congressional mandate," it said.
"All Rapiscan AIT units, currently operational at checkpoints around the country as well as those stored at the TSA Logistics Center, will be removed by Rapiscan at their expense and stored until they can be redeployed to other mission priorities within the government," TSA said.
Most of the backscatter units being removed will be replaced with millimeter wave units.
The millimeter units will be moved from the inventory currently deployed at other airports and from an upcoming purchase of additional millimeter wave units.