The End of New Age Naked Body Scanners

English: An image of Susan Hallowell, Director...
English: An image of Susan Hallowell, Director of the Transportation Security Administration’s research lab. http://www.slate.com/id/2160977 taken with backscatter x-ray system, which is in use for airport security passenger screening. This is not the image that screeners see at the airports. The machine that took this image does not have the privacy algorithm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In previous blog posts I’ve written about the ludicrous recent technological ‘enhancements’ in our country’s airport security screening procedures. I described the time I was helping my elderly wheel chair bound father fly to Florida. (see “Annual Check-Up by TSA,” 12-28,10) Not only were my dry grits confiscated (by a hungry TSA worker no doubt), but I was also given such a thorough TSA pat down that I suspected I’d received a pap smear.

I have always refused to go through the ridiculous Rapiscan advanced imaging technology units better known as Naked Body Scanners. I wasn’t as upset about the naked part as I was about being zapped by unnecessary exposure to radiation. That has meant I’ve received many of the wonderful TSA pat downs (and pat ups or maybe pap smears as I pointed out with the aggressive crotch search they do). At the Richmond International Airport (which consistently has the worst airport TSA staff ever in my experience) I’ve even resorted to wearing my one-piece Speedo under my travel clothes. I then disrobe in the screening area to try and well—speed things up. It usually throws them off enough that I get ‘processed’ quickly, as well as probably being entered into some Looney-bin watch list for flights. I’ve done my share of writing nice letters of complaint to the National Aviation Safety Board or some such agency, protesting the body scanners and invasive pat-downs.

So I was ecstatic when I read the recent announcement that TSA is terminating their contract with OSI Systems, the company that makes the body scanners. They’ll  remove all the naked body scanners from airports by June. Actually, last June Congress passed a bill banning detailed body image airport scanners, but they granted OSI Systems a generous one year extension to try and come up with a technology fix for the existing scanners. The fix never happened (nor was it likely to have ever been possible), so TSA is replacing the naked body scanners with safer and less invasive targeted scanners that use radio waves instead of radiation. TSA states they are making this change after complaints from the public about the level of invasion of privacy of the body scanners, as well as health concerns from exposure to radiation. I’m wondering why TSA can’t just contract with the makers of Speedo to give all passengers swimsuits….

But wait! Who owns OSI Systems, the company that manufactures and sells the crazy naked body scanners? It’s Deepak Chopra—but not the physician turned guru of positive energy and New Age healing. That would be just too weird. It’s some other Deepak Chopra who appears to make even more money than the good psychic physician does. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the Deepak Chopra who is the OSI Systems founder and director is 61 years of age and currently has an annual salary and compensation package of $7,034,066. His company also makes many of the medical monitoring systems found in our hospitals.

2 thoughts on “The End of New Age Naked Body Scanners

  1. Reading your comments with interest. As far as the scanners going away, I believe that TSA is taking only the backscatter machines out of service. Millimeter wave units, like those used at Richmond, will remain.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Ah yes–the Richmond International Airport microwave scanners. There are also privacy and health concerns about those–plus they seem to break down quite a bit. I’ll continue my Speedo-enhanced pat downs….
      BTW–I’m all for real safety/security measures–other countries such as Israel seem to do it better with intelligent human screeners and don’t rely so heavily on crazy techno-gizmos that mainly benefit the techno-gizmo company executives.

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