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TSA to remove controversial X-ray scanners

Those airport scanners with their all-too-revealing body images will soon be going away.

The Transportation Security Administration says the X-ray scanners will be gone by June because the company that makes them can't fix the privacy issues. The other airport body scanners, which produce a generic outline instead of a naked image, are staying.

The government rapidly stepped up its use of body scanners after a man sneaked explosives onto a flight bound for Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.

At first, both types of scanners showed travelers naked. The idea was that security workers could spot both metallic objects such as guns as well as nonmetallic items such as plastic explosives. They also showed every other detail of the passenger's body, too.

The TSA defended the scanners, saying the images couldn't be stored and were seen only by a security worker who didn't interact with the passenger. But the scans still raised privacy concerns. Congress ordered that the scanners either produce a more generic image or be removed by June.

The TSA announced last year that the X-ray scanners were being removed from LaGuardia and Kennedy airports.

On Thursday, Rapiscan, the maker of the X-ray scanner, acknowledged it wouldn't be able to meet the June deadline. The TSA said Friday it ended its contract with Rapiscan.

The agency's statement also said the remaining scanners will move travelers through more quickly. L-3 Communications, the maker of those scanners, came up with software that no longer produced an image of a traveler's naked body.

Rapiscan parent company OSI Systems Inc. said it will help the TSA move the scanners to other undisclosed government agencies. Scanners are often used in prisons or on military bases where privacy is not a concern. OSI said it will maintain a scanner contract with the TSA, but would take a one-time charge of $2.7 million.

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