Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gizmodo Publishes 100 of 35,000 Body Scan Pictures Saved by Florida US Marshals

Following a Freedom of Information Request, Gizmodo has published 100 photos taken by the Gen 2 millimeter wave scanner from Brijot Imaging Systems, Inc. (Gizmotdoslightly blacked out to ensure anonymity of individuals) busting assertions by the TSA and other government agencies that operators “cannot store, print, transmit or save the image….” of body scanners.
     According to the TSA — and of course other agencies — images from the scanners are “automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer.” Whatever the stated policy, it’s clear that it is trivial for operators to save images and remove them for distribution if they choose not to follow guidelines or that other employees could remove images that are inappropriately if accidentally stored.
     Past public statements made by the Transportation Security Administration, have given the impression that full-body airport scanners don't have the ability to store and transmit images. EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center) has shown that to be a lie.

    In the mean time, wired.com reports that the TSA has launched an investigation of a passenger in San Diego who left the airport after opting out of an invasive body scan and criticizing the proposed alternative pat-down.
    John Tyner, a 31-year-old software programmer, recorded the encounter with TSA on his mobile phone and posted it to his blog.
     TSA has responded by telling local reporters that it’s now investigating the passenger, who may face an $11,000 fine if the agency decides to sue him.

“There was a certain percentage of people who were willingly going through the scanner,” Tyner told Threat Level. “Then, every time the scanner was empty, they would just grab the next person in the line for the metal detector and send them through the scanner.”
     Due to privacy and health concerns, Tyner opted out of the scan in favor of a pat-down. But when the TSA agent explained in detail the agency’s new policy for “enhanced” pat-downs — which includes using the front of hands and fingers to touch passengers in their groin — Tyner balked.
     “If you touch my junk,” he told the agent, “I’ll have you arrested.”
     The agent called his supervisor, who told Tyner that if he wasn’t comfortable with the enhanced pat-down “we can escort you back out and you don’t have to fly today.”
     Tyner told the agent, “I don’t understand how a sexual assault can be made a condition of my flying.”
     When the agent replied that a pat-down was not considered a sexual assault, Tyner said, “It would be if you were not the government.”
     ...“We want to be sure that everyone on a plane can be assured that the people with them received the same screening process,” Michael Aguilar, the TSA’s security director in San Diego, told reporters, despite the fact that screening actually varies greatly among passengers, some of whom are allowed to pass through metal detectors without a pat-down or scan.
     ...Kate Hanni, founding director of FlyersRights.org, said that her organization’s hotline has “been blown up with calls complaining about the scans and pat-downs.” Members with the 30,000-strong organization expressed concerns about health risks and about whether the TSA conducts background checks on agents to screen pedophiles out of the agency.

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