Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) (formerly called the Whole Body Imager)
|“||produces images of the body to screen passengers for metallic and nonmetallic threats including weapons, explosives, and other objects concealed under layers of clothing.||”|
It is used by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). TSA has stated that the AIT will enhance its explosives detection capability, because the AIT presents a full body image of a person during the screening process. The AITs produce an image of a passenger’s body that a screener interprets. The image identifies objects, or anomalies, on the outside of the physical body but does not reveal items beneath the surface of the skin, such as implants.
Concerns have been expressed that the image is an invasion of privacy. According to TSA, to protect passenger privacy and ensure anonymity, strict privacy safeguards are built into the procedures for use of the AIT. For example, the officer who assists the passenger never sees the image that the technology produces, and the officer who views the image is remotely located in a secure resolution room and never sees the passenger. Officers evaluating images are not permitted to take cameras, cell phones, or photo-enabled devices into the resolution room. To further protect passengers' privacy, ways have been introduced to blur the passengers' images. The millimeter wave technology blurs all facial features, and the backscatter X-ray technology has an algorithm applied to the entire image to protect privacy.
Further, TSA has stated that the AIT's capability to store, print, transmit, or save the image is disabled at the factory before the machines are delivered to airports, and each image is automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer. Once the remotely located officer determines that threat items are not present, that officer communicates wirelessly to the officer assisting the passenger. The passenger may then continue through the security process. Potential threat items are resolved through a direct physical pat-down before the passenger is cleared to enter the sterile area.
- Homeland Security: Better Use of Terrorist Watchlist Information and Improvements in Deployment of Passenger Checkpoint Technologies Could Further Strengthen Security, at 16, 17-18.