February 08, 2011

Udall Seeks to Protect Personal Privacy in Airport Screenings

Senator’s Amendment Would Set Deadline for New Imaging Technology

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) has introduced an amendment to the pending FAAReauthorization to increase privacy protections for airline passengers who are screened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with whole body scanners, or Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT).

"The body images produced at airport checkpoints are highly revealing and many passengers are justifiably uncomfortable being screened by the technology," said Udall. "The alternative for those who refuse an AIT screening is a full body pat-down, which is also hardly ideal for personal privacy."

Udall's amendment would set a deadline of Jan. 1, 2012, for Automatic Target Recognition software to be installed nationwide on existing AIT machines. This software enhances privacy by eliminating passenger-specific images and instead detects potential threat items and indicates their location on a generic outline of the individual being screened.
Click here for a comparison of the technologies.

Similar software is already being utilized abroad. This month TSA will begin field-testing the program at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

"With this technology, we can enforce airport security without sacrificing our personal privacy. By imposing a strict deadline for the transition to this software, we will ensure that TSA and the manufacturers have ample time to test and make any necessary modifications while preventing unnecessary delays for its implementation," said Udall.