WASHINGTON -- The last of the so-called "naked image" body scanners will soon be removed from U.S. airports.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is severing its $5 million software contract with OSI Systems Inc. for Rapiscan "Secure 1000" units, after the company couldn't produce less revealing images in time to meet a congressional deadline, reports CBS News aviation and transportation correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.
Seventy-six of the machines have already been removed from U.S. airports; there are currently 174 left.
But body scanners are not being removed from airports entirely. Still in use are machines made by L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc., which produce less-detailed images that comply with congressional mandates to better protect passenger privacy.
Use of advanced imaging body scanners at airports was accelerated after the so-called "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas 2009. That was followed by an outcry from privacy advocates and members of Congress who argued the naked images produced by the machine were too invasive.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) likened a scan by the machines to a "physically invasive strip search."
In August, 2010 the TSA asked the makers of the body scanners to make the images less revealing. L-3 accomplished the goal in 2011, but Rapiscan recently said it would not be ready with its fix until 2014.
That's beyond a June deadline mandated by Congress.