TSA scanners getting less personal

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You'll probably notice something different the next time you go through security at Richmond International Airport. In response to privacy concerns, the TSA has made changes to body scanners which sparked anger and protests nationwide.

TSA agents won't be looking at nearly naked images anymore. Now a generic body image that looks a lot like a gingerbread man will appear on the screen. TSA hopes this will keep people safe while protecting your privacy.

Stan Austin and his wife Susie flew back home to Richmond Wednesday morning. He had to pass through the TSA body scanners just like everyone else.

"They could look at all my parts," Stan Austin said. "It wouldn't bother me in the least."

Now those scans won't come at the expense of his privacy. Stan's body scan will now look more like a generic outline than his real image. A yellow blob will appear if the scanner detects something suspicious.

"I just want the plane to go up and come back down safely," he said. "If that's what I have to put up with, I'll put up with it."

One of the biggest differences with the new software is you'll be able to see your image as you walk out of the machine. There will no longer by a TSA agent at a remote location looking at the body scan images.

Allen Ellerbrock flies at least once a week. He thinks many people are self-conscious and that's why they have a problem with the body scanners. He thinks these new generic images should ease people's concerns.

"The idea that someone is seeing them outside of their partner or spouse of whatever freaks them out a little bit," Ellerbrock said. "I think having the blurred image or generic image will probably make a lot of people feel better."

Travelers we spoke to say they don't care what image appears from the body scan, they just want to stay safe.

"It does not matter to me either way," he said. "My biggest thing is as long as they're keeping the airways safe with as much as I travel. That's the biggest difference to me."

The new generic body imaging software has been in use for about a week at RIC. Richmond is one of forty airports in the country to have it.

TSA plans to eventually upgrade all of its body scanners nationwide to the generic body images.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.