When the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began using backscatter X-ray machines, privacy advocates balked at the notion of TSA employees seeing a colorless image of passengers’ naked bodies. Not long after, naked airport protests embarrassed the TSA and worries of the the general ineffectiveness of the devices began to widely circulate. Now, the devices have been completely removed from U.S. airports.
According to a CNN report, the removal of the devices was due to a congressional act that required the machines to better protect passengers’ privacy. The TSA could not meet the new standards, and instead phased out the backscatter X-ray machines. The agency had until June 1 to stop using the devices. All 250 of the machines stationed in U.S. airports were reportedly removed two weeks ago at the expense of Rapiscan Systems, the company that manufactured them.
Fliers should not become too excited, though – a competing body scan technology is still in use in some U.S. airports. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), millimeter wave devices, which use a different portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to provide images, will continue to be used. EPIC is a a privacy and civil liberties organization that has filed multiple lawsuits against the TSA over privacy concerns.