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Scanners with enhanced privacy software coming to 29 airports

The Transportation Security Administration announced Thursday that full-body screening machines equipped with software to enhance passenger privacy will be placed in 29 smaller U.S. airports. 

In July, the agency announced that it would replace its controversial software, which revealed images of a naked body, with software that would not create passenger-specific images. Instead, screeners see a generic outline of the body on a monitor attached to the scanner. The software auto-detects metallic and non-metallic concealed items. Many of the country's largest airports already have the upgraded software.

The machines to be deployed at the 29 airports will be millimeter-wave scanners, which use electromagnetic waves to produce an image of the body. The TSA also uses backscatter scanners, which use low-level X-ray beams to create an image of the body.

“We remain committed to implementing technologies that strengthen passenger privacy while ensuring the highest level of security,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole in a statement. “In addition to improving the passenger experience at the checkpoint, advanced imaging technology continues to give us the greatest opportunity to detect and deter evolving threats to aviation.”

Among the airports to receive the scanners with upgraded software are Akron-Canton in Ohio, Hilo International in Hawaii, Norfolk International in Virginia, Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional in Florida and Plattsburgh International in New York.

There are nearly 500 full-body scanners at the nation's 78 airports. The TSA hopes to purchase an additional 225 machines in the next year. 


Thanks to new software, many full-body scanners will no longer create passenger-specific images. A TSA administrator gives the scanners high marks after they were tested in major airports. NBC's Chris Clackum reports.

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