TSA Admits Body Scanners Store and Transmit Body Images

Last Updated Jan 12, 2010 2:11 PM EST

OK, so we all knew that the Transportation and Security Administration's huffing and puffing about body scanners not storing and transmitting images seemed a little fishy. Well, according to specification and contract documents found by Electronic Privacy Information Center, it seems the machines can do both in "test mode."

However, an anonymous TSA official who apparently spoke to Wired.com and CNN, said that there was no way an airport employee could access test mode and the body scanners would not be hooked up to a network, so there could be no hacking into the machines. However, the official declined to say what would be needed to activate the machine into test mode or if an employee could do so.

EPIC's executive director Marc Rotenberg asserts that the TSA has covered up the fact that the machines can be hacked and have storing and transmitting capabilities.

"I don't think the TSA has been forthcoming with the American public about the true capability of these devices," Rotenberg told CNN.
The privacy issue is creating strange bedfellows, like freshman Congressman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah who is being joined by the American Civil Liberties Union in opposing the body scanners.

"We don't need to look at naked 8-year-olds and grandmothers to secure airplanes," Chaffetz told the Chicago Tribune. "Are we really going to subject 2 million people per day to that? I think it's a false argument to say we have to give up all of our personal privacy in order to have security." (Chaffetz is referring to "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." -- Benjamin Franklin)

Images of naked children flashed on a screen has also put up a few red flags for child advocates. That those images could be disseminated could also mean trafficking in child pornography.

It's obvious that the TSA and the federal government didn't think the whole idea through when they brought on body scanners. It seemed like the latest security fad and they bought into it. But by pushing to make body scanners mandatory they have totally lost track of what is right and what is wrong -- along with the contents of the Constitution.

Body scan photo courtesy of Rapiscan Secure 1000 Body Scanner by OSI Systems Inc.
  • Barbara Hernandez

Comments