|image credit: TheStatelessMan|
After a long, hard fight against the so-called naked body scanners placed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in airports across the United States, privacy advocates and freedom fighters everyone have finally come out on top, at least partially.
The opposition faced by the TSA in this case has been strong and unrelenting with a highly critical 2012 report by the Subcommittee on Transportation Security of the House Committee on Homeland Security, a 2012 federal court ruling calling on the TSA to explain why they refused to hold the mandatory public comment period on the body scanners and scientists questioning the safety of the devices.
The scanners not only lack proper privacy controls and have questionable safety, but are also known to be ludicrously expensive.
According to the TSA, the scanners are being removed become the company behind them couldn’t manage to write software that properly maintains the privacy of passengers.
“TSA will end a $5 million contract with OSI’s Rapiscan unit for the software after Administrator John Pistole concluded the company couldn’t meet a congressional deadline to produce generic passenger images, agency officials said in interviews,” according to Bloomberg.
While the fact that the TSA is removing the remaining 174 Rapiscan machines after taking 76 machines out of busier U.S. airports in 2012 is a major victory, it isn’t a complete one.
Indeed, as Bloomberg notes, “The TSA will use 60 machines manufactured by L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL), the agency’s other supplier of body scanners, and will move some scanners to busier airports to reduce waiting times.”
Yet that does not mean that this is any less of a victory, especially given the fact that according to Karen Shelton Waters, the TSA’s assistant administrator for acquisitions, the company behind the Rapiscan machines will be absorbing the costs.
According to Waters, the decision to cancel the contract and remove the Rapiscan machines was in no way related to the TSA probe into the company potentially faking testing data on the software fix.
The probe began after November of 2012 when Rep. Mike Rogers, then chairman of the House Transportation Subcommittee, sent a letter to Pistole saying that OIS Systems Inc., the company behind the Rapiscan machines, “may have attempted to defraud the government by knowingly manipulating an operational test.”
Rogers, an Alabama Republican, said that the subcommittee received a tip about the falsified tests, which Rapiscan unsurprisingly denied.
The battle is clearly not over, despite some claiming otherwise.
Indeed, as Bloomberg reports, “TSA has contracted with L-3, Smiths Group Plc (SMIN) and American Science & Engineering Inc. (ASEI) for new body-image scanners, all of which must have privacy software.”
According to John Sanders, the TSA’s assistant administrator for security capabilities, the TSA will be receiving 60 L-3 scanners in January and February.
Bloomberg reports that Sanders said the agency “will be getting about 60 more L-3 scanners,” making it unclear how many L-3 scanners the TSA will have in total.
Furthermore, it must be noted that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are working together on a new generation of airport security technology.
Note that this technology is not the same as the laser-based molecular scanner that is also being developed.
The future of this type of technology is uncertain, but if anything is clear, it is that the government is not going to give up any time soon.
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This article first appeared at End the Lie.
Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on UCYTV Monday nights 7 PM - 9 PM PT/10 PM - 12 AM ET. Show page link here: http://UCY.TV/EndtheLie. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at admin@EndtheLie.com
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