Do the TSA’s new body scanners solve our screening problems?

The TSA is at it again. Earlier this week, it announced that in an effort to “enhance security while strengthening privacy protection” it had begun testing new scanning technology that doesn’t show screeners naked images of passengers.

But that is not why I’m writing about the beleaguered federal agency again. I promised you, dear reader, that I would pace myself with these TSA posts, and I am trying. It’s been five days since my last one.

It seems we’re at it, too. Just as the government made a big splash with its new scanning technology announcement (and we had the usual cast of critics and apologists trading insults, which was disappointing) so, too, have passengers and their advocates made some important — yet largely unreported — progress.

Before we get to that, a few words about the “new” scanners, which are actually just a software upgrade. The application is being used in existing scanners at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and will be loaded into machines at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in “the very near future,” according to the agency.

In a blog post accompanying the announcement, the TSA claims that only a “small percentage of travelers have had privacy concerns” with the screening process, and that this fix “eliminates” them.

That’s an interesting perspective. I wonder what the tens of thousands of passengers who are subjected to a physical pat-down would have to say about that. What’s more, I wonder how that flies with the passengers who are worried about radiation from those scanners?

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