TSA Agrees To Take The Naked Out Of Naked Scanners

from the nice-of-them dept

After all the controversy concerning the TSA’s naked scanners, it appears that someone at the TSA just found out that they could be made to work without showing the naked image of a person’s body and realized perhaps it’s a good idea to switch to that version of the software. Of course, there are still serious concerns about the radiation issues, but at least something is happening.

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Comments on “TSA Agrees To Take The Naked Out Of Naked Scanners”

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AJ says:


Sooooo…. no one see’s my Junk, but I may die of cancer? I think the TSA needs to work on their priorities….




AJ says:

Re: Re: Priorities?

If they have solved the problem, and their is no risk of cancer causing radiation, then why not just answer the question “NO! It does not cause cancer!”

Q: Can the radiation exposure from the CastScope X-ray cause cancer?
A: Exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation not exceeding those from the environment has not been shown to affect human health.


infinidiv (profile) says:

A little late maybe?

The same scanners that the TSA are using are being planned for use in European airports. The controversy started as soon as the first test run in a single airport took place. The discussion sounds very similar, one part privacy (“I don’t want that man seeing me naked!”) and one part health (“That machine will make me impotent!”).

The idea of hiding the “sensitive parts” of those images was decided on last year though, so while the discussion in terms of health (which I agree needs to be examined more carefully) is still going on, the whole privacy thing disappeared pretty quickly when bureaucrats found out how easy it would be to blur out two parts of the body (which is really what we’re talking about right?).

Why is the TSA only talking about that now??

jilocasin (profile) says:

really? or is it just more smoke and mirrors?

It sure sounds good that they are going to display ‘stick figures’ on their millimeter wave machines. Unfortunately, it’s not being installed on their more problematic x-ray machines. Also, they are still storing nudie pics of you and your loved ones.

IF they were serious about privacy, then they would build these machines so that they were incapable of storing any images, and deleted the actual image as soon as the computer finished analysis. Instead they still store them and the requirements for new ones include high speed network links.

IF they were serious about our health, then they would decommission the problematic back scatter x-ray machines.

and finally IF they were serious about improving airport security they would focus on things that might actually make us safer (reinforced cockpits, banning obvious weapons, perhaps a few bomb sniffing dogs) instead of abusing the citizenry, shredding our constitutional rights, wasting billions of dollars we can’t actually afford, and otherwise making air travel a miserable experience.

(reference to ACLU page on the same topic)

“A further question is whether the raw nude images remain in any way accessible to operators, which would mean one of the privacy threats posed by these machines ? the ?leakage? of images into the public domain ? would remain. The machines are designed to store the images, even if they don?t show them. That is a problem that needs to be addressed, and effective oversight measures need to be in place to prevent abuse.

It is also worth noting that the new software is being installed only in millimeter wave machines, and not in scanners that use backscatter x-ray technology, which constitute about half of the scanners in service. The TSA says it is working on similar software for the backscatter machines. Note that health questions have also been raised concerning the backscatter x-ray machines (which look like a wall that you stand against, as opposed to the millimeter wave machines which are a glass booth you step inside).

( http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security-technology-and-liberty/tsa-scanners-start-moving-naked-bodies-stick-figure )

Hans says:

Likely fail

So they’re trying to use automated pattern recognition to identify and display abnormalities of the many varied shapes, sizes and forms of the human body. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that this significantly lowers the detection accuracy, both false-positives and false-negatives, of the very underwear bombs these things were meant to detect.

But that won’t stop them. Every passenger’s life is sacred, no matter the cost. Even if infinite.

I predict we’re going to find out that they are in fact keeping the nude scans so they can reveal them to the operator whenever the scanner “sees” something. Which would fix the false positive bias, but not the important bias — the ones where the scanner missed a bomb because it looks like a body part. So they’ll have to bias towards detecting more rather than less, and be looking at the actual nude image more often. Tee hee.

infinidiv (profile) says:

Re: Likely fail

Huh… that would be a problem. And I didn’t even think of that, even though I work with statistics every day! 😛

Whatever they do, I would point to jilocasin’s comment: “IF they were serious about improving airport security they would focus on things that might actually make us safer (reinforced cockpits, banning obvious weapons, perhaps a few bomb sniffing dogs)”.

No stats problem then! Ok, almost… 😉

FarSide (profile) says:

Re: Likely fail

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that this significantly lowers the detection accuracy, both false-positives and false-negatives, of the very underwear bombs these things were meant to detect.

Good move on their part – who will complain when they are told they were pulled out of line because the machine detected an ‘abnormally large protrusion’ in their underwear?

halley (profile) says:

Re: Likely fail

Plus, it’s obvious that if someone DID get through with a bomb, the image of their nude-o-scope visit is material evidence. And the images of their last five nudes on their last five (ten, fifty) flights will be mined to understand how they developed their capability. There is absolutely no way they’re deleting or shredding images until they’ve filled available storage capacity, and also lost all funding for more capacity.

Havoc (profile) says:

Re: Likely fail

“Every passenger’s life is sacred, no matter the cost.”
Ah, TSA mantra, however misguided. Fact is, for all the problems, for all the exposure(X-ray & naughty bits), all this crap has stopped nothing, and it seems as though the public has no voice in this due to our electeds’ post-911 ‘spend whatever we want and claim it’s for national security’ mindset.
And so, here we deservedly are. We let this happen.

jsl4980 (profile) says:

I heard that they were changing the images and this just makes me worry even more. This implies that the images are useless – if the users are just as effective seeing an actual scan as they are seeing a stick figure then how useful are the images and users? Why display the images at all and why hire people to stare at the screens? Can’t they all be replaced by a light bulb that lights up when the system detects something like they have in metal detectors?

The news of this update seems to confirm that these systems are huge wastes of money. The x-ray images are as effective as a drawing of a stick figure, it’s time to get a refund.

Brad C (profile) says:

These machines can be made safe and protect people’s privacy by adding two new rules:

1. In order to place a model of scanner into service or change it’s operating parameters, everyone in the TSA who manages more than 20 people is required to stand in one of them for 20 minutes and have the video of their scan be made available to the public.

2. Anyone responsible for operating a scanner is required to stand it in for 5 minutes each day while the public can see the screen.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

The 4 Things That Made Us Safer

The ONLY four things that have increased our airline security since 9/11/01:

1) Re-enforced cockpit doors
2) Pilots, occasionally armed, instructed not to yield the cockpit under any circumstances.
3) Armed undercover agents
4) The fact that passengers will actively attack and force submission of any potential hijacker with a weapon less lethal than a machine gun – even at the passengers’ own peril.

With these 4 factors, our risk of hijack from small weapons is almost nil. This means that the TSA on the ground should focus on big metal and explosives…but instead they have focused on your nail clippers, and octogenarian cancer patients breasts.

These 4 factors, combined, increase our flying safety a great deal. Nut juggling and nude scans, not so much.

Jeff Buske (user link) says:

Privacy software only a bandage Radiation the same

We applaud the move to enhance privacy unfortunately the new software is only a bandage and does nothing to address fundamental issues created by the scanner. Like all software, it is not perfect the new software may make us less safe with trading common sense for blind reliance on high technology perhaps going backwards? We understand the need for “security” however, when the health risk and lost of liberties is greater than the perceived “benefit.” why bother? Learn More:


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