The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that it is pulling all full-body scanners based on backscatter X-ray technology from US airports.
In a terse statement issued on Thursday, the agency said it had terminated its contract with Rapiscan, the maker of the controversial scanners, because the company was unable to deliver devices incorporating Automated Target Recognition (ATR) software by June 2013, as required by law.
ATR replaces the highly detailed images normally supplied by the scanners with a generic outline of a human body. Anything that looks like a hidden object to the scanner is displayed as a vague shape superimposed over the area of the traveler’s body where the object might be found.
Millimeter wave scanners – the other kind of full-body scanners deployed by the TSA – were retrofitted with ATR software in 2011, and these types of scanners will continue to be used in US airports.
Because Rapiscan was unable to meet the Congressionally mandated deadline to install ATR on all of its backscatter scanners, however, the TSA now says that not only will it not buy any more of the devices, but it will retire all of the backscatter scanners currently in use by June 1.