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TSA Eliminates All Invasive, 'Gumby' X-Ray Machines

A Transportation Security Administration employee demonstrates the Backscatter advanced imaging technology scan currently in testing at the TSA Systems Integration Facility in Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A Transportation Security Administration employee demonstrates the Backscatter advanced imaging technology scan currently in testing at the TSA Systems Integration Facility in Arlington, Virginia, U.S.

The Transportation Security Administration announced it has finished removing from all airports the X-ray technology that produced graphic and controversial images of passengers passing through security screening checkpoints.

In a letter released Thursday, TSA administrator John Pistole told the House Homeland Security committee that as of May 16, all US airports scanners equipped with the ability to produce the penetrating images will now only show a generic outline of a passenger to the operator. A colored box pops up if the full-body scanner detects a potentially forbidden item.

The TSA beat their deadline by two weeks for modifying the scanners. The technology was originally mandated to be removed by June 2012 under the Federal Aviation Administration's Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, but the deadline was extended to May 31, 2013.

The machines, which the TSA first deployed in 2008, provoked public outrage as the technology, better able than traditional X-rays to detect hidden contraband, also created images that appeared as if they were "virtual nudes." Critics called this an invasion of privacy and questioned whether the scanning devices truly lacked the ability to save the images, as the TSA claimed.

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