Despite claims by the TSA that electronic body scan images "cannot be stored or recorded," some federal police agencies are in fact saving tens of thousands of images, according to a report by CNET News.There may be a legitimate reason for the Marshals Service to keep pictures of nekkid passengers, but unless one of them was carrying a very small bomb somewhere down there, I can't think of one.
The body scanners, increasingly found in airports, courthouses and other places where security is high, use an assortment of technologies. These include millimeter wave scanners (shown below) — in which the subject is harmlessly pelted with extremely high frequency radio waves which reflect a picture back to the device — and backscatter X-ray (shown above) — which measures low-powered reflective X-rays to produce clearer body shots, shots that can reveal alarmingly precise anatomical detail.
According to CNET, the U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had saved thousands of images that had been recorded from a security checkpoint in a Florida courthouse.
The revelation comes at a tense time. Two weeks ago, when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said such scanners would appear in every major airport, privacy advocates such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington D.C. filed a lawsuit to stop the device rollout.
The reason? Because the devices were "designed and deployed in a way that allows the images to be routinely stored and recorded," EPIC executive director Marc Rotenberg told CNET, adding that this "is exactly what the Marshals Service is doing."
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Our law enforcement officials at work: