And, Of Course, Gov't Agencies Recorded And Stored Body Scan Images

from the what-possible-benefit? dept

A whole bunch of folks have been sending in various versions of the story that the federal government hasn't been entirely forthcoming about body scanning equipment increasingly used at airports. We already knew some of this. While, last year, the TSA had said that "scanned images cannot be stored or recorded," back in April we noted that the TSA had admitted that the machines can store and record images, but that it was only used for "testing, training, and evaluation purposes." However, they also noted that there was nothing preventing people from turning on that functionality during actual use. At the time, we wondered how long it would before officials started coming up with reasons to use it.

While it's still not clear if the TSA is actually recording or storing any images, a bunch of other government and law enforcement agencies are starting to admit that they have, in fact, been using the feature, and storing tens of thousands of images of people entering courthouses and other law enforcement buildings. This isn't surprising of course. If the functionality is there, it's going to get used. It's not surprising, but disappointing, that the government has brushed off such security concerns.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Keven Sutton (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:24am

    more of one than the other...

    The security concerns are why they are keeping the scans (though I can see little benefit from keeping the images). privacy is what they are brushing off when they are doing this, Admittedly a small difference in concept, but an important difference anyway.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:41am

    What I Don't Get Is...

    Why did they bother lying about it at all? Why not just say, "Yeah we do it. National Security"? They pull that stunt for things like bottled water and nail-clippers.

     

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  3.  
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    Matt (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:48am

    The government lied...

    ... and yet somehow people were still surprised.

     

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  4.  
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    Paddy Duke (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:56am

    Why on earth would you need to keep the scans?

    When this tehnology was first introduced in the UK, I argued that while yes it was indefensibly invasive, people needn’t particularly focus on the issue of the images being saved, since it would serve absolutely no purpose to hold on to them.

    I’d love to hear the reasoning these agencies give for storing the scans.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:00am

    Re:

    If some baddie gets through then they can look through the scans for tell-tale signs and then point at a TSA drone to be the fall-guy; saying, "This man did not discover the issue in time. TSA as a whole is still safe, so give us more money."

    Any reasons that actually protect citizens in real-time? Nope.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:00am

    Re: What I Don't Get Is...

    They bother because it is part of the dance.
    If you outright dismiss those things, other people who generally never complain would do so, then they do it in the weasel way, which is lying about what they really want.

    People think their are weak and only powerful people control anything, for the most part that is true, but for politicians that is not entirely, because they depend on the people to get elected and appearances matter.

     

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  7.  
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    NullOp, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:00am

    Tired

    Anyone else here tired of being lied to by our government? OF COURSE the scanner can store the image...DUH!!

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:02am

    Re: The government lied...

    I don't know if it is genuine surprise. People usually just get a rush on being outraged and indignant.

     

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  9.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:21am

    Re: Re: The government lied...

    "I don't know if it is genuine surprise. People usually just get a rush on being outraged and indignant."

    Herd mentality is such a wonderful thing....

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:26am

    Re: Re: Re: The government lied...

    Ever herd of "I'm a cow" song?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WFp4kozlOU

    I remember that, don't know why.

     

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  11.  
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    AdamR (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:45am

    Re: Re:

    "If some baddie gets through then they can look through the scans for tell-tale signs and then point at a TSA drone to be the fall-guy; saying, "This man did not discover the issue in time. TSA as a whole is still safe, so give us more money."

    Umm how would you which person got threw and then tie it to a specific body scan image? Unless you are saving info to that person?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:46am

    Dey took ur body scans!

     

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  13.  
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    AdamR (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:46am

    Re: Re:

    "If some baddie gets through then they can look through the scans for tell-tale signs and then point at a TSA drone to be the fall-guy; saying, "This man did not discover the issue in time. TSA as a whole is still safe, so give us more money."

    Umm how would you which person got threw and then tie it to a specific body scan image? Unless you are saving info to that person?

     

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  14.  
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    Matt (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Umm how would you which person got threw and then tie it to a specific body scan image? Unless you are saving info to that person?"

    It probably doesn't matter if they can actually conclusively tie it to someone since they would basically just be using it to create a scape goat.

    It's also highly likely that they are storing more information than they have admitted to.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:15am

    I can see it now....Scan Porn!

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:23am

    Creepy TSA agents!

     

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  17.  
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    Joe Krahn (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:24am

    Better transgender statistics?

    With privacy no longer a concern, we can reliably determine the number of cross-dressers and transsexuals, not to mention the average genitalia sizes, number of thong wearers, etc.

     

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  18.  
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    Bubba Gump (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:12am

    Re: Re: The government lied...

    I still can't believe Bush is letting this happen. It's time to vote him out of office! He's creating a police state.

     

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  19.  
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    Adam, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:27am

    At some point in the future, without a doubt, some zaftig woman's whole body scan will appear on youTube or some porn site and then the S will hit the fan.

     

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  20.  
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    mta, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:28am

    saving images

    I could only see saving images for customers that had some form of a concealed item that was disallowed and to use those for training, but if I didn't set off any alarm the pics shouldn't be stored.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re: Re: The government lied...

    Nah, Nixon is the real secret president. He doesn't mind all of this so much since he is just a head in a glass jar. No body scans for him.

     

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  22.  
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    drkkgt (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:44am

    Re: Re: Re:

    that would be easy if you have an idea of who the person is. Every checkpoint I have seen has a cctv as well so watching time stamps would probably get you right on the money.

     

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  23.  
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    AdamR (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "that would be easy if you have an idea of who the person is. Every checkpoint I have seen has a cctv as well so watching time stamps would probably get you right on the money."

    Except that a lot of those cameras may or may not work. There was minor scandal about those cameras in Newark airport not working for months at a time.

     

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  24.  
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    Krusty, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    Re: The government lied...

    ... and yet somehow "some of the" people were still surprised.

    There, fixed it for you.
    How can you tell when the government is lying?
    Easy, their lips are moving.

     

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  25.  
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    airrdkl (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:14am

    the only things the govt does not want us to see is anything they do, if we try this we get raked over the coals

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:20am

    Cheaper Alternative

    Why don't they just have people strip and pose for a regular camera? Same result, but it would be a whole lot cheaper than using these very expensive, special cameras that can see through clothes anyway. But I guess if you're the government, cost is no object.

     

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  27.  
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    Bubba Gump (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:26am

    Re:

    Nonsense, there's plenty of reason to store the scans.
    They're compiling statistics on average size of genitalia.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:40am

    Them and Us

     

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  29.  
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    direwolff (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 10:24am

    TSA claims their machines can't store images

    Just found the "official" TSA response on these disclosures and they claim on their blog that "TSA has not, will not and the machines cannot store images of passengers at airports." Here's the link to their post: http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/08/tsa-response-to-feds-admit-storing.html

     

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  30.  
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    Dementia (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The government lied...

    Scarier yet, "Cows with Guns"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQMbXvn2RNI

     

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  31.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    Re: TSA claims their machines can't store images

    Whoops....
    Read the comments on that one! LOL!

    Also TSA Concedes Body Scanners Store and Record Images

     

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  32.  
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    Bruce Ediger (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Whole Body Scan on Porn Site

    I kind of doubt that body scans will show up on porn sites. I mean, for all the fooforah about Celebrity X's "sex tape", we really don't see "Best of Laguna Hills Mall" mall-cop leering voyeur tapes. The only thing along those lines I can think of is the famed "Splash Mountain" images that showed up on Usenet in the mid-90s.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 4:15pm

    Re:

    Maybe they have a scan of TAM's mom.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 4:16pm

    Re:

    All your scans are belong to us.

     

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  35.  
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    Communism, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 12:38am

    Sounds like some awesome child porn

    What self respecting authoritarian figure doesn't want free, coerced, child/teen porn?

     

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  36.  
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    Sedate Me, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 8:57am

    These scanning machines may be marginally more effect than regular cameras, but mostly in the way that they're taking real-time pictures of people who are detained and surrounded by security personnel, as opposed to recording passive video (nearly all of which is never viewed by anyone) of random people meandering hallways that are devoid of security personnel who probably couldn't do much of anything anyway.

    Sure, cameras are occasionally good at figuring out what happened and who killed all those people. But, figuring out what happened doesn't provide any security. It serves merely as an entertaining postmortem puzzle that provides authorities the chance to play detective like when they were kids.

    As with regular cameras, a major reason they use these body scanning machines is so they can BUY body scanning machines. This is as much about the Security-Industrial complex as anything else, the symbiotic relationship between governments and industries that provide them with tools aimed at subduing a population. Criminals and terrorists aren't phased by surveillance, only citizens worried about the aftereffects of an act of defiance of authority (ie yelling at an airline for double booking or fee gouging, or protesting at a G20 gathering)

    Why do government agencies save useless scans of your body? For the same reason they save your e-mails, recordings of your phone records, and every other bit of info they can on you...because they can and nobody has the balls to stop them. They are in control and you are nothing to them but a lab rat to be observed.

     

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