Feds Come Clean: Admit to Storing Body Image Scans

Last week on Upgrd 66 I voiced skepticism about TSA assurances that body scan images are immediately deleted and never stored. After all, if something was found on a passenger wouldn't the image have to be stored to have any sort of evidentiary value?

Not surprisingly, CNET reports that the U.S. Marshall Service has saved tens of thousands of body images it has recorded from a single Florida courthouse. This revelation comes in the wake of continued promises by the Feds that these types of images are never stored. Now a courthouse is not an airport, but do you really think the scanned images are deleted at airports? I certainly do not.

Consider this document from the TSA:

TSA...requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for "testing, training, and evaluation purposes." The agency says, however, that those capabilities are not normally activated when the devices are installed at airports.

Forgive me for not being comforted by TSA assurances that image storing capabilities are "not normally activated."

Or this TSA document:

A 70-page document showing the TSA's procurement specifications, classified as "sensitive security information," says that in some modes the scanner must "allow exporting of image data in real time" and provide a mechanism for "high-speed transfer of image data" over the network.

I now have another reason to vociferously avoid the nude-o-scopes that will soon be appearing at every major U.S. airport. Truth be told, I don't lose sleep over a TSA-pervert getting a sneak peak in my pants: what I protest is the mindless security game we are playing in this country. Hysteria will not keep us safer.

Benjamin Franklin said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." His words remain prevalent. 


smashr August 5, 2010 at 11:03 am

Not disagreeing with you, but FYI the actual quote is:

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

I still think it applies here, but it does change the meaning somewhat.


@smashr: Thanks for your comment. I have corrected my Franklin quote.

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