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TMCNet:  Privacy prevails at Logan: New body-scanner software to show only stick figures [Boston Herald]

[July 17, 2010]

Privacy prevails at Logan: New body-scanner software to show only stick figures [Boston Herald]

(Boston Herald (MA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 17--Logan International Airport hopes to be the first airport in the country to get new software that should eliminate privacy concerns over full-body scanners at security checkpoints.

The software would produce stick-figure images of passengers instead of the more revealing images currently viewed by operators at remote stations.

The software would detect suspicious objects on passengers that require further attention -- such as possible weapons or explosives -- allowing Transportation Security Administration screeners and explosive weapons specialists to hone in on them and determine whether they pose a danger.


"It takes away that privacy issue that some people are concerned with," Ed Freni, Massport's director of aviation, said following a Logan press conference yesterday with John Pistole, assistant secretary of the TSA.

Logan now has 17 full-body scanners covering more than 90 percent of its security checkpoints. Using low-dose X-rays, the walk-through scanners produce two-sided head-to-toe, black-and-white images of passengers' bodies that are viewed by TSA workers in a separate area who don't come into contact with the passengers.

Privacy advocates have raised concerns about the scanners, and the TSA implemented safeguards that included blurring facial features and making sure the scanners can't print or store images. Passengers' private parts are discernible but not very distinct on the images, the TSA has said.

Passengers who don't want to go through the full-body scanners can instead submit to full-body pat-downs and open-bag searches.

"We really haven't had any issues," Freni said.

Freni hopes Logan can get the new software, which is still under development, by the new year, but the TSA could give no timeframe.

dgoodison@bostonherald.com To see more of the Boston Herald or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.bostonherald.com.

Copyright (c) 2010, Boston Herald Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit www.mctinfoservices.com, e-mail services@mctinfoservices.com, or call 866-280-5210 (outside the United States, call +1 312-222-4544)

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