After insisting to the public that the Rapiscan – or “rape scan” as critics called them – machines could be used without violating the privacy of travelers, and after millions of travelers were subjected to them, the TSA is removing them from airports because – surprise! – they can’t really be modified to protect our privacy.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will remove airport body scanners that privacy advocates likened to strip searches after OSI Systems Inc. (OSIS) couldn’t write software to make passenger images less revealing.
TSA will end a $5 million contract with OSI’s Rapiscan unit for the software after Administrator John Pistole concluded the company couldn’t meet a congressional deadline to produce generic passenger images, agency officials said in interviews.
The TSA wants to make it clear that they aren’t pulling these machines out because they’re all that concerned with our privacy, or the machine’s effectiveness, but rather because Congress is making them. “We are not pulling them out because they haven’t been effective, and we are not pulling them out for safety reasons,” a TSA official said. “We’re pulling them out because there’s a congressional mandate.”
Unfortunately for federal employees, the machines may still be used to take pictures of their genitals:
However, the scanners aren’t on the way to the junk yard just yet. OSI has struck a deal with the TSA which will see the machines being used by multiple government agencies across the country. That does, at least, mean that it will be federal employees who have their genitals imaged, as opposed to the public.
The news will no doubt be embraced by the legion of protesters, outraged by the privacy implications of the naked body scanners. But save a thought for the poor TSA employees: how are they going to get their kicks now?
Meanwhile, the TSA still hasn’t held court-mandated public hearings about the rape scanners and other aggressive screening tactics (see: crotch groping). They have until March to do so, and it doesn’t appear they’ll happen.
Which sounds like a good enough reason to me to shut down the TSA. They aren’t making us any safer. They are violating our privacy. Turning screening back over to the airports, and airlines, couldn’t be any worse than what we have now.