Canada's 'naked' airport scanners to show a lot less skin

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OTTAWA — Body scanners at airports across Canada have been made less intrusive.

“In the past, many Canadians have expressed concern relating to their privacy when choosing to enter the full-body scanner,” Minister of State for Transport Steven Fletcher said on Tuesday while announcing new software for the scanners.

“This new software will increase the privacy of those being screened, while continuing to ensure the absolute safety and effective security of Canadian air travel.”

The scanner will continue to detect potential threats, said officials, but eliminates the need for a screening officer to view an outline of a passenger’s body.

For three years, major Canadian airports have used full-body scanners; there are 52 across the country.

Passengers selected for a secondary search are still given a choice, said Fletcher, of passing through a scanner or getting a pat down.

The “Automatic Target Recognition” software was implemented in all of the scanners at major airports earlier this month.

It is just as secure as the software it replaces, said officials.

Passengers who go into the scanner stand with their feet apart and put their arms up over their head. The scan takes only seconds.

It works by projecting “low-level radio frequency energy” around the body, and uses highly-sensitive detectors.

The stick figure image displayed on a nearby screen identifies areas of the body where objects may be hidden under clothing.

It can detect materials including metals and non-metals, ceramic-type threats, such as a sharp instrument, or liquids.