Earlier today, Senator Rand Paul raised some questions about the screening process after going through one of TSA’s millimeter wave body scanners that use automated target recognition (ATR) technology. The ATR software displays the same generic image for all passengers to further protect passenger's privacy.
The benefit of automated target recognition is that when a passenger alarms, the officer can look at the generic image to see where the alarm is and then do a targeted pat down to clear the area. For example, if the alarm shows that something might be in your cargo pocket, the officer will pat down the area around your pocket to determine what caused the alarm.
When a passenger or bag alarms in screening technology at a TSA checkpoint, the alarm has to be resolved before the passenger can enter the secure area past the checkpoint. Passengers who refuse to complete the screening process can’t be granted access to the secure area. TSA notifies law enforcement when this happens, and law enforcement officers can escort them out of the checkpoint. This isn’t done to punish the passenger– it’s done to ensure that every person who gets on a plane is screened appropriately.
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