New security at Los Angeles International Airport means more passengers than ever before will be stepping through these controversial scanners.
The full-body scanners can detect hidden weapons or explosives. But some people worry the graphic images they produce are an invasion of privacy.
The cameras were flashing as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) volunteer at LAX Tuesday afternoon demonstrated exactly how the new full-body scanner will work. It's called "advanced imaging technology" and pretty soon, every terminal at LAX will have one.
"Imaging technology safely screens passengers for metallic and non-metallic threats including weapons, explosives, and other objects concealed under layers of clothing without physical contact to help TSA keep the traveling public safe," said Lee Kair, assistant administrator of the TSA.
At a news conference Tuesday, city and federal leaders launched the new state-of-the-art technology. Travelers will still have to take off their shoes and empty their pockets before they enter into the scanner. In a matter of seconds, a black and white image is projected onto a computer screen. Then, an officer in a separate room reviews the image for any security breaches.
Officials say people's privacy will be protected.
"The scanned image that is taken is only seen by a TSA screener in a remote location," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "The image cannot be saved, stored, or shared and the image is automatically deleted."
But not all travelers are onboard.
"It's a little weird," said one passenger. "I definitely see where it would come from through just like a security point, I think that's really important but at the same time, it's kind of like, who's watching it?"
TSA officials say officers will not be allowed to take a cell phone or camera into the monitoring room. Travelers will also be able to opt out, but will then be patted down.
As for the dangers of this technology, officials say the amount of radiation this machine emits is equal to two minutes of flight on an airplane.
TSA officials say that since January, these scanners have prevented about 67 prohibited items from getting onto airplanes. There are only about four of these scanners at LAX right now, but by the end of the year there will be one at every terminal, including about 450 at airports across the country.