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TSA warns about scan shield clothing

AIT blocking underwear

The furor over Advanced Imaging Technology screening at airport security checkpoints has spawned some products that trouble the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA advised Jan. 7 on its web site that passengers should avoid using products that can be worn to shield their private areas from AIT screening. The agency posted a “polite” warning on its blog site that said using such products would lead to the same conclusion that a refusal of AIT screening does—a pat-down.

In November, an inventor introduced a line of men’s and women’s underwear that is equipped with powdered metal inserts that block a variety of scanning technology, but don’t set off metal detectors. The gear’s Web site said the company’s “emphasis is on protecting the traveling public, airline, medical, and security professionals from radiation generated by backscatter, x-ray and mm-wave imaging equipment.”

“Sensitive tissues not of interest to imaging procedure will be protected and obscured, avoids potential child pornography and stored image medical issues (HIPPA compliance),” said the site.

TSA is not unfamiliar with commercial efforts to block screening. The agency went through similar warnings about products designed to block imaging of baggage sent through X-ray screening a few years ago, when an artist designed metal plates with explicit messages that could be placed inside baggage to taunt screeners.

“Throughout history, there have been many creative products offered to consumers that promise to make certain parts of their lives easier. Some work better than others, and well... some just don’t work at all,” said the post. “What am I getting at? I’m getting at the products folks have created that are designed to shield private areas of passengers going through our Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT),” said the TSA’s Blogger Bob.

“Remember the post (Message In a Carry-On) about the artist who designs metal plates for baggage with messages that appear on the X-ray monitor? This is very similar to that,” he said. “If there is something shielding an area and we don’t know what’s under it, we have to conduct a pat-down,” he said.

“So basically, passengers should be aware that the use of these types of products will likely result in a pat-down. Some might think this is TSA’s way of getting back at clever passengers. That’s not the case at all. It’s just security,” he said.

The TSA’s message didn’t say the products were prohibited, though. “We're certainly not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t buy or wear, but I feel it’s only fair to give you a heads up on your choice of attire,” said Blogger Bob.


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