The TSA says there are 15 Advanced Imaging Technology machines in use at Bush Intercontinental Airport. The “backscatter” technology lets screeners, in essence, see through passenger’s clothing to check for weapons or explosives. New machines at Hobby airport should be operational next month. The TSA’s Luis Casanova says procedures are in place to ensure privacy.
“The officer that deals with that person never sees the image and the person in the resolution room that sees the image never sees the passenger, so there’s complete anonymity. The other thing is that the passenger has the option if they opt out to go through an alternate screening and in that case that screening is done by a same-sex officer and they have a right to a private screening and they have a right to have someone with them.”
Those secondary screenings often include what Casanova calls a “thorough pat-down”. Backscatter technology uses x-rays that emit a very low dose of radiation.
“It’s equivalent to two minutes in the air on an airplane. The doses are very low level. The rays bounce off the skin. They don’t penetrate the skin and it’s just meant to go through the individual’s clothing.”
Casanova says the vast majority of passengers have no problem with advanced screenings and understand the need for security. Despite the recent outcry against advanced screenings, the TSA says passengers who refuse them still won’t be allowed to fly.
Images are courtesy of TSA.