In the autumn of 2010, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began deploying new
technologies and procedures for screening passengers at airport checkpoints. Reports of negative public reaction to some of these changes have prompted intense congressional interest in TSA passenger screening. This report addresses some of these concerns.
During 2010, TSA introduced whole body imaging (WBI) systems at airport checkpoints around the United States. Previously, the systems were used only on a trial basis at a small number of airports. They are now in use as a primary screening method at most busy passenger airports.
These systems, which the TSA refers to as advanced imaging technology (AIT) systems, capture an image of what lies underneath an individual's clothing. Critics have referred to this as a “virtual strip search.” If an individual considers this screening method too invasive or revealing or prefers not to undergo AIT imaging for any other reason, TSA provides the option of submitting to a pat-down search instead.