TSA sets rules for full-body scanners

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is moving forward with new regulations for the use of full-body scanners that screen airline passengers.

The TSA has been using full-body scanners — known as advanced imaging technology — since 2008. But the agency is now engraving the security procedures in the Federal Register after a federal court ordered it to go through a formal rulemaking process.

Full-body scanners are more effective than traditional metal detectors at screening for explosives and other weapons, the TSA said.

"Terrorists continue to test our security measures in an attempt to find and exploit vulnerabilities," the agency wrote in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register.

The TSA noted the “critical weakness” of traditional metal detectors is that they miss weapons not made out of metal, including some explosive devices.

Full-body scanners, on the other hand, detect “weapons, explosives, and other objects concealed under a person’s clothing that may not trigger a metal detector,” according to the security agency.

"The technology bounces electromagnetic waves off the body to detect anomalies,” it explained. "If an anomaly is detected, a pat-down of the area where the anomaly is located is usually performed to determine if a threat is present.”

The TSA employs nearly 800 full-body scanners in airports around the country. The use of these devices could cost the government more than $2.1 billion over a 10-year period, the agency noted.

The rule goes into effect in 60 days.