What Airport Scanners Can See, Detect

Most people aren’t aware on what airport scanners see and detect. It’s basically a complete strip search on camera using X-ray technologies. It can reveal everything about a person’s body and the TSA officials even admit it.

It’s added security checkpoint for airline passengers, giving TSA agents a full view behind the curtain. It’s also an added security measure that can detect weapons and explosives under clothing. However, some groups are criticizing what airport scanners see.

The X-ray backscatter body scanner has been described by critics as a “virtual strip search.” The scanner is similar to one that was added at Paddington station in London in 2006 in direct response to the tube bombings in July 2005. Similar systems have also been tested at Gatwick airport.

“It will show the private parts of people, but what we’ve decided is that we’re not going to blur those out, because it severely limits the detection capabilities,” Cheryl Johnson, general manager of the Office of Transport Security, said in a statement.

“It is possible to see genitals and breasts while they’re going through the machine, though,” she admitted. However, many people fear that everything will be displayed for the public to see, especially those waiting in line. Johnson said that only the active TSA screening agent has the visual search, not the public.

“It does see through clothing, but it’s not a photographic image, it’s a low-energy X-ray that reflects off the skin,” Johnson explained. “The security officer that’s looking at it is located away from the screening lane, so there’s no comparison of the person walking through and the image.”