Senate Votes to Make Misuse of TSA Scanner Images a Felony

Millimeter wave technology produces whole body images (woman at left, man at right) that reveal what's under your clothes, including Metallic or non-metallic devices and objects are displayed, including weapons, explosives and other items that a passenger is carrying on his/her person.

When you walk through one of those new hi-tech full body scanners at TSA checkpoints at the airport, screeners can still see your private parts, but the Senate wants to make sure no one else does.

The Senate voted 98-0 to make it a felony for anyone to misuse those images, by copying them, collecting them or distributing them in any way. Violators would be subject to up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.

The scanners that see through clothing and produce a very detailed picture of the body have stirred outrage among many passengers, even as the TSA defends them as essential to find explosives or weapons which don't show up with standard metal detectors.

The vote was on amendment to a bill to modernize the FAA sponsored by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Schumer said the measure sends a message to the flying public that "not only will we do everything we can to protect your safety, we will also do everything we can to protect your privacy."

The TSA says it does not store the images from the body scanners and there is no way they could ever be copied. But there was an incident last year at a federal courthouse in Florida where the U.S. Marshals Service was using similar scanners and did store some 35,000 images -- some of which later ended up on a website.

This measure, if it becomes law, would make sure that anyone at an airport who sees those all-too-detailed scans of passengers' bodies doesn't photograph them or copy them or show them to anyone else.

  • Bob Fuss

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