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January 21, 2013

Naked-image scanners to be removed from U.S. airports

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The agency's strategy for handling passenger traffic relies on the capability of L-3's millimeter-wave machines to process passengers in about half the time as Rapiscan machines, Sanders said. TSA will be getting about 60 more L-3 scanners in January and February, he said.

TSA is also planning to move some scanners from airports where they're underutilized to busier airports, Sanders said. The agency plans to expand the PreCheck program, in which passengers share personal data before going to the airport in exchange for less-invasive screening that lets them keep their belts and shoes on.

PreCheck passengers go through metal detectors instead of body-image scanners. As PreCheck expands, it will free up millimeter-wave machines to ease crowding, Sanders said.

Sanders said the Rapiscan units did their job by screening 130 million passengers, and the agency wouldn't have acted if not for the congressional mandate for privacy software.

"We are not pulling them out because they haven't been effective, and we are not pulling them out for safety reasons," Sanders said. "We're pulling them out because there's a congressional mandate."

The TSA is talking to other government agencies with screening needs that might not require the same level of privacy called for in a crowded airport, Sanders said.

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