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.

Filed Under: ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “And, Of Course, Gov't Agencies Recorded And Stored Body Scan Images”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
36 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Paddy Duke (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.”

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

AdamR (profile) says:

Re: 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?

Matt (profile) says:

Re: 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.

AdamR (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

AdamR (profile) says:

Re: 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?

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

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.

direwolff (profile) says:

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

Sedate Me says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »