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Federal Agencies Admit to Storing Body Scanner Images

By MSI in Background Checks, Chicago, Criminal Records, Debugging - Electronic Countermeasures, eavesdropping, hidden cameras, Illinois, invasion of privacy, Investigations, MSI Detective Services, Privacy, Private Investigator, Safety, Screening, Security, Surveillance Services, Technology, technorati at August 14th, 2010 | 10 comments

Following terrorist to smuggle weapons on US airline flights, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began implementing Body Scanners. Under immediate criticism, they defended the use of the scanners by implicitly stating images from airport scanners couldn’t be saved after the initial viewing.

Last summer, the TSA made the rounds on morning news shows, claiming that “scanned images cannot be stored or recorded.”

It turns out this was a lie; following the media tour assuring our privacy wouldn’t be compromised, it was discovered the images actually could be stored, supposedly for training and testing purposes.

Now it’s been uncovered that at least on federal agency was actively storing and cataloging images without consent or disclosure (secretly).

In a statement last week, the U.S. Marshal Service admitted they’d secretly stored tens of thousands of the controversial scans taken from one security checkpoint in a single courthouse.

Their admittance came on the heels of a TSA disclosure (PDF) that every machine purchased by the agency was required to include recording and transmitting capabilities. Again, claims the TSA, for testing, training, and evaluation. However, they stated, the recording capabilities aren’t typically activated at airport scanners.

Use of the surveillance scanners is beneficial to any security installation; according to the Fed, they’re invaluable because of their ability to detect hidden weapons. Scanners are able to view subjects beneath their clothing; some machines can provide detailed images “so accurate that critics liken them to a virtual strip search.”  The scanning systems differ according to the technologies employed. A  “millimeter wave system” image is less-detailed, and fuzzier, than that of  a Backscatter X-ray Scanner, which shows precise, anatomical detail.

The privacy issue, which began under President Bush, became hotly debated when Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ,  released an announcement that scanners would soon be implemented at nearly every major airport.

EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center)  filed suit in federal court,  requesting immediate termination of TSA scanner-use in airports.

According to EPIC, the scanners are being utilized in such a way that images are easily stored, evidenced by the Marshal Service’s disclosure.

A spokesperson for the Federal Marshals acknowledged that they  possessed 35,314 images recorded an Orlando federal courthouse; they also disclosed that a machine tested in the D.C. federal courthouse had been returned–image database intact–to the manufacturer.

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10 Responses to “Federal Agencies Admit to Storing Body Scanner Images”

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  2. Wimpie says:

    This is a strip-search, period. It makes no difference that the technology allows it to be done on an industrial scale, it’s a violation of privacy that ultimately has, at best, no effect on safety. At worst, it exposes frequent fliers to elevated doses of x-ray radiation which may cause more deaths by cancer than the terrorists could ever kill with an airplane.

    Body-cavities are not revealed, thus making this simply an exercise in power-mongering voyeurism.

    You MUST opt-out of these intrusive searches, and maybe be wanded/patted by a same-sex guard. I Opt’ed Out a few months ago, which gave me the opportunity to officially express my displeasure – the smurf wrote down the reason for my opting-out for their official records (it’s a strip-search, I said). I suggest more people do this.

    Don’t forget that there is no real way to validate what level of scanning is being done by the TSA. Example images on placards at the airport only show what the government want normal people and potential terrorists to see. If terrorists knew exactly how much scanning was occurring, they could adapt likewise.

    Therefore, it is implausible to expect the TSA to be honest about how high the scanning level is set. In effect, the TSA will feed the general public propaganda to stop the enemy from being more diligent in their stealth.

    Nice, eh – considering this was the state of the art 4 years ago:
    (You may have to cut and paste the above link)

    The TSA acceptanlce polls quoted date to January, before anybody had any idea about the invasiveness of these machines. Latest poll on NY Times shows 75% AGAINST!

    Just remember to say “I OPT-OUT”

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