Stop the presses...it seems the Transportation Security Administration actually started thinking about the privacy of the citizens it is trying to protect. This may just be a step in the right direction for the much-maligned agency, which has been dealing with the problem of technology acceptance.
The issue surrounds the infamous millimeter-wave body scanning machines which many of you have been forced to endure on your way to an outbound flight. The big problem was the "genetically correct" images that this technology produced -- causing an outbreak of criticism and bashfulness among flyers.
Travelers can now take heart -- the TSA is replacing the genetically correct images with stick-figure-like androgenous images that can still detect any threat. Instead of an agent looking at the image of your body "behind a screen somewhere else in the airport" -- everyone will be able to see the same image as the TSA agents as they go through the checkpoint.
Here's what the new image will look like:
As opposed to the old image:
"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," TSA Administrator John Pistole said this week.
The TSA added that it expects all 241 millimeter-wave machines at 40 U.S. airports to be upgraded by the end of the year. The agency plans to test similar software in the fall for its 247 body-scanning "backscatter" devices, which use high-speed X-rays and emit a low dose of radiation. The backscatter machines are at 38 airports.
TSA spokesman Nicholas Kimball told USA Today that the machines "are the best technology currently available to detect well-concealed non-metallic explosives, which are among the most significant threats to our national security today."
To me, I applaud this effort as one step that could really help repair the TSA's long-term image.