The whole area of airport scanners is controversial enough without rumors floating that the scanners save images. In fact, the Transportation Security Administration is quite adamant about the issue.”TSA has not, will not and the machines cannot store images of passengers at airports.” says their blog.
The rumor started with a report from CNET with the inflammatory headline: Feds admit storing checkpoint body scan images.
It seems that The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.
This morphed into the belief that the TSA is storing the images. However, the Transportation Security Administration swears it isn’t them.
First, U. S. Marshal Service is NOT the same as the Federal Air Marshal Service.
Second, the image storage took place at a Florida courthouse checkpoint and NOT a TSA checkpoint.
It is certainly possible to configure the scanners to save and print these sensitive images, but the equipment as sent by the manufacturer to airports “cannot store, transmit or print images and operators at airports do not have the capability to activate any such function.”
Moreover, according to the TSA “Officers evaluating images are not permitted to take cameras, cell phones or photo-enabled devices into the resolution room.”
Can the officers sitting in those rooms sneak in some kind of camera? Of course, there are miniature everythings and unless the officers are being scanned themselves it would be hard to detect.
But that’s different from the machines being configured to permit storage and printing.
This is of particular interest to people flying out of airports that have implemented the body scan technology for exclusive use in their airport. Albuquerque’s Sunport is one of the airports that will soon only use the body scanning system.
Personally, more assurance of the ultimate safety of the technology for frequent fliers would be more helpful. All technology is “safe,” until used long enough for nasty side-effects to appear.
However, you may want to stay out of the Orlando Federal Courthouse. Read more about that controversy, including their assertion that these are not really photographic images at all at US Marshals Response to Body Scanning
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