100 Saved Body Scans Now On-Line

A Florida courthouse illegally saved 35,000 images from security scanners.

Gizmodo reports that at a courthouse in Florida 35,000 images along with pictures of those scanned were improperly possibly even illegally saved.

A Gizmodo investigation has revealed 100 of the photographs saved by the Gen 2 millimeter wave scanner from Brijot Imaging Systems, Inc., obtained by a FOIA request after it was recently revealed that U.S. Marshals operating the machine in the Orlando, Florida courthouse had improperly-perhaps illegally-saved images of the scans of public servants and private citizens.

[…]

While the fidelity of the scans from this machine are of surprisingly low resolution, especially compared to the higher resolution “naked scanners” using the potentially harmful x-ray backscatter technology, the TSA and other government agencies have repeatedly touted the quality of “Advanced Imaging Technology” while simultaneously assuring customers that operators “cannot store, print, transmit or save the image, and the image.” 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.

If this happened with the “naked scanners” that are causing a great deal of controversy along with the rather intimate “pat down” searches for those who decline the scan, this would indeed be a pretty severe breach of privacy. I’ve also brought up this point, but so far nobody has had any really courage to take it on…what happens when some of these “naked scanner” images turn up of prepubescent children? Considering that an underage girl taking a picture of her boobies is technically guilty of producing child pornography where do these machines fit into that spectrum?

FILED UNDER: Government, Law and the Courts, National Security, Quick Takes, Terrorism, US Politics
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. Neil Hudelson says:

    Considering how short of time the scanners have taken center stage in the media, and how quickly these illegally saved images were found, I think we’ll hear a hell of a lot more of this soon.

  2. TG Chicago says:

    What pervert or pedophile is going to miss this opportunity? The TSA will be flooded with applications by the worst possible people. And when they’re on the job, will they really be paying attention to who has a pocketknife on them, or will they be distracted by the show?

  3. TheAlchemist says:

    How much tyranny will you accept?

  4. superdestroyer says:

    What people are learning is that real security is a pain in the ass. Just ask anyone who had to get into a nuclear weapons storage location, a chemical weapons depot, or the BL-4 laboratories.

    The real problem is that there is a federal agency responsible security at airports, a federal agency responsbile for security at nuclear power plants but no federal agency responsible for the security of the oxygen tanks at Hospitals or at day care centers.

    If the terrorist had the least bit or outside the box thinking that could scare americans from doing to the hospital or putting their children into daycare centers. That would have the same effect on the economy as scaring people to stop flying.

  5. Tano says:

    “What pervert or pedophile is going to miss this opportunity? ”

    You gotta be kidding. You seriously think some perv is going to make a career choice on the hope that they manage to eventually get assigned to work the scanners so they can sit there for hours getting momentary glances of some pretty gross stuff – in xray – on the hope that some body-of-interest occasionally flashes by? When they could, alternatively, spend a few minutes googling around and find millions of explicit images in great detail and color, and videos?

  6. Ben says:

    Tano,
    Here’s a report that answers that question for you. This didn’t involve a prepubescent child, but it DOES show that TSA agents are conspiring with each other to direct nubile young women into the backscatter scanners, and giving each other a heads up to take a gander.

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/1147497-tso-saying-heads-up-got-cutie-you.html

  7. superdestroyer says:

    Ben,

    I would be worried about any pilot who fails to realize that they receive much more radiation just from flying than they will ever receive from the x-ray body scanners. The radiation dose from flying varies between 250 and 500 microrem per hour whereas the scanners give you a dose of less than 100 microrem.

    If the pilots claiming to be worried about their radiation dose were really concerned about the radiaiton, they would never have become pilots in the first place. Also, you have to worry about airports that have to be dragged into the 21st century of security., In the 1980’s homeless people were living at the airport and the airports claimed that nothing could be done about it. In the 1990’s, the security ended in the end of the day and the boarding areas were totally unguarded. Airports scanned passengers put did not check the people working the restaurants and cafes inside the airport. Remember when anyone with an easily forged claw enforcement credential could bring a weapon onto the plane?

    Until people state that they are willing to accept a certain number of terrorist attacks and will not be able to sue if there are attacks, the people have to accept increasing levels of security.

  8. Franklin says:

    The problem here is that when they first started installing these scanners at airports, they SPECIFICALLY said that they have NO ABILITY to store the image, and that the images were automatically blurred out. Well it turns out both things are completely false, so there’s little reason for us to trust them further.

    /apologies if this is a double-post, the first time didn’t appear to work

  9. Ben says:

    superdestroyer: When the hell did I mention anything about radiation? My argument isn’t about the radiation, its about the privacy concerns, and the HUGE potential for abuse involved in these scanners and pat-downs.

    That link I posted was about a TSA agent directing a young 17 year old girl into the backscatter machine, and then saying “Hey, I got a cutie coming your way” into his headset. How is this acceptable?

    As to your last point … I was always willing to accept the risk of a terrorist attack and have flown a few dozen times in my life. It took these new measures to make me no longer fly ever again while they are in place, unless my life depends on it.

  10. Jack says:

    Superdestroyer – the problem with radiation exposure is the effects arise from *cumulative dose*, so ANY additional radiation exposure is undesirable, especially if it is avoidable.

    Since the pilot can fly the plane into a building or oil refinery or any other structure he chooses, forcing pilots to be exposed to additional radiation in the name of “security” is ridiculous.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    Superdestroyer,

    It’s not a simple cumulative quantity thing with the X-Rays. The official reason the AA Pilots Assn is concerned is because of the type of X-Rays and how they are deployed. There are some researchers who have speculated that rather than be distributed throughout the body like traditional X-Rays, these ones are all stopped by the skin, resulting in a much higher dose in surface tissues.

    I don’t know how credible this is. If it were true, it would be a very significant increase in dosage to those tissues. If it is what someone came up with while sitting at the end of the bar, well, it’s out there now and therefore needs to be investigated.

  12. Steve Verdon says:

    You gotta be kidding. You seriously think some perv is going to make a career choice on the hope that they manage to eventually get assigned to work the scanners so they can sit there for hours getting momentary glances of some pretty gross stuff – in xray – on the hope that some body-of-interest occasionally flashes by?

    Priests.

    And it isn’t that pedophiles have to make a career choice en masse, but that there might be some….fortuitous coincidences.

  13. superdestroyer says:

    markedman,

    I have read the UCSF memo and the researchers are just being curmudgeons. The body search systems operate at around30 kVp and a chest x-ray operates at 90 kVp. Both are evaulated using the entrance-skin-exposure which for x-rays is directly related to the entrance skin exposure. The claim that x-rays cannot be evaluated using exposure or air kerma is incorrect. The National Council on Radiation Protection, the Health Physics Society, and the American College of Radiology have all stated that they risks from the systems is so small as to be irrelevant.

    If the pilots want a different system, the need to propose a different systems. Do you really think pilots was to go back to the days of no security.

    What the pilots are upset about is that real security is very hard. Just look at the White House to determine how hard real security is.