More full-body scanners coming to U.S. airports

Boston Logan International and Chicago O'Hare will be among the next 11 airports to implement full-body screening technology, the Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday.

A portion of the Transportation Security Administration's $1 billion in stimulus funds will pay for the installation of that  equipment, the agency explained in a statement.


TSA officials hope to deploy those devices by the end of this summer, with more to come in "the near future," the DHS explained. The agency ultimately hopes to install a total of 450 of those units by the end of 2010, officials said.

“By accelerating the deployment of this technology, we are enhancing our capability to detect and disrupt threats of terrorism across the nation,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano explained in a statement on Friday. “These 11 airports will be the first of many to receive this enhanced technology as a result of the Recovery Act.”

The TSA's move to install full-body scanners at airports nationwide arrives in direct response to the Flight 253 terror attempt on Christmas Day.

Some security experts at the time said those advanced-imaging tools could have helped airport screeners catch suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab before he boarded his plane bound for Detroit.

But a smattering of privacy groups, congressional lawmakers and political pundits have since hammered the TSA for its new approach, claiming the scanners could facilitate gross personal privacy violations.

Those criticisms could grow more vocal, considering officials are paying for the latest round of full-body scanners using stimulus cash.

Still, DHS officials repeated in their release Friday they would take extra care to ensure the confidentiality of those images.

"TSA ensures passenger privacy through the anonymity of AIT images—a privacy filter is applied to blur all images; images are permanently deleted immediately once viewed and are never stored, transmitted or printed; and the officer viewing the image is stationed in a remote location so as not to come into contact with passengers being screened," according to the department.