Nicole C. Wong
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
The Transportation Security Administration said yesterday it will beef up screening at Boston’s Logan International Airport with better X-ray machines to check carry-on bags and full-body scanners that can see through clothing to detect whether travelers are concealing objects.
The TSA plans to outfit the airport in October or November with more than one of these so-called whole-body imaging machines, which have raised privacy concerns where they have been tested. The scanners produce three-dimensional images of people’s naked bodies, but the agency says procedures have been modified to protect passenger privacy.
The technology “allows us to screen passengers for any prohibited items quickly and unobtrusively,” said George Naccara, the TSA’s federal security director for Logan. “Efficiency and effectiveness will improve with whole-body imaging.”
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According to sample images shown on the TSA website, full-body scanners can display images that show details such as muscle definition. But the machines will blur passengers’ faces, which is one of the improvements the TSA has made.
“They’ve turned down the intensity a bit so some of the images under the clothes will be fuzzy,” he said. “They’ve also remotely located the person viewing the images so that person can’t associate the image with the passenger. We don’t have any capability to store or to print any of these images.”
The machines can detect nonmetallic objects hidden under clothing, such as explosives, and will replace pat downs of travelers who trigger a metal detector or are flagged as a “person of interest.”
Officials say the security enhancements aren’t in response to new threats at Logan. The Boston airport is often among the first to deploy innovative technologies, a lingering effect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which the two hijacked planes that brought down New York’s World Trade Center departed from Logan.
“Anything that can increase security over what we currently do is a marvelous thing,” said Dennis Treece, Massport’s director of corporate security. “That being said, there are privacy issues we wanted the TSA to sort out before it got here.”
This article was posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 10:40 am