Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Graphic full body scanners headed to JFK and LaGuardia, eventually
The X-rays are about to be X-rated at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.
The Transportation Security Administration has designated the city's airports for security scanners using "backscatter" X-rays that see through clothes, the Daily News has learned.
Travelers will be visible to security agents in a chalky and detailed naked outline - front and back.
Newark Airport, which is also receiving new scanners, will have to settle for PG-rated models: "millimeter wave" technology devices that can detect objects hidden under clothes using radio waves.
Newark security screeners will see a silhouette of a passenger in 3-D.
Both versions have slowly been showing up at airports around the U.S. since the TSA announced last March that 450 units would be installed nationwide.
The TSA has put 292 of the machines in place at 61 airports since March, but it will take a while longer for them to show up in the New York area.
The machines were supposed to arrive last summer. Then it was September. Now it will be "in the coming weeks," said TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis.
The delays result from "installation issues," Davis added.
She insisted they haven't been slowed up by lawsuits filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center to stop the placement of the machines as an invasion of privacy.
Both versions "are pretty graphic. Both are unacceptable," said Ginger McCall, an assistant director of the open government program at EPIC.
The group has argued for more testing of the scanners that McCall charged "may not even pick up" the objects they are designed to detect.
The TSA opted to install the scanners after Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit last Christmas by setting off explosives hidden in his underwear.
When the new machines are operational, passengers will be selected randomly to go through them. Those who refuse will get a patdown.
The TSA maintains the images shown are deleted about 20 seconds after a passenger passes through.
The new scanners have received a mixed reception in Europe. After six months of testing, Italy last month gave up on the machines used in Rome, Venice and Palermo.
"It takes a long time to examine a person, more than with a manual inspection," said Vito Riggio, head of Italy's aviation authority.