Posted by on August 12, 2011 in Blog

By Frank Matt

The TSA’s recent announcement of new software and practices that enhance passenger privacy deserve our praise. TSA Administrator John Pistole announced the implementation of new software that eliminates passenger specific images from the screening process. Rather than a revealing image of the individual passenger, the TSA officer will see a generic outline of a person. This nifty new software is able to auto-locate potential threats underneath the clothing, both metallic and non-metallic. If a threat is detected, the screen will show where specifically on the generic body outline the TSA office needs to investigate further. If nothing shows up in the scan, the TSA officer will simply see a green screen that reads “OK” and the passenger can proceed emotionally and physically unscathed.  If you’re like me than it is comforting to know that in the future our private parts will stay private, yet the lack of naked images in not the only benefit of this new technology.

Moreover, this new technology will eliminate the need for a TSA officer to view images in a remotely located viewing room. The passenger will be able to view the same image as the officer, and decisions to search further will be made face-to-face with the passenger. Hopefully this personal interaction and co-viewing of scanned images between passenger and TSA officer will lessen the occurrence of the horrific stories of TSA absurdity that are so often in the news.

While the news of this new technology is undoubtedly encouraging, only once it is fully implemented will we be able to judge its impact on our safety and civil liberties. New technologies and procedures often do not live up to their press announcement hype. The underlying idea behind this announcement from the TSA is, however, worthy of our praise. The notion that we must be prepared to sacrifice our own rights and privacy to feel safer in today’s world has been force-fed to the American public since terrorism first rose to prominence in our national consciousness and dialogue. The post 9/11 world has seen the advent of unwarranted wiretapping and special registration in pursuit of increased security from new and amorphous threats. What is truly reassuring about this latest TSA announcement is that it marks an attempt at an advance in our security that does not come at a cost to our privacy. Hopefully the new technology will accomplish what it is promisedThe kind of thinking that led to this announcement is at least a step in the right direction.


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