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Government Privacy

Airport Scanners Can Store and Transmit Images 350

Posted by kdawson
from the naked-truth dept.
CNN is reporting on findings from a Freedom of Information request initiated by the Electronic Privacy Information Center that has revealed that, contrary to public statements by the Transportation Security Agency, full-body scanners can store and transmit images. "In the [FOIA] documents, obtained by the privacy group and provided to CNN, the TSA specifies that the body scanners it purchases must have the ability to store and send images when in 'test mode.' ... 'There is no way for someone in the airport environment to put the machine into the test mode,' [an anonymous] official said, adding that test mode can be enabled only in TSA test facilities. But the official declined to say whether activating test mode requires additional hardware, software or simply additional knowledge of how the machines operate."
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Airport Scanners Can Store and Transmit Images

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  • Re:So? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Monday January 11, 2010 @07:24PM (#30731350) Journal

    Sadly, that seems to be pretty much true. If the fact that they won't actually prevent anything (because they can't scan inside body cavities), can cause DNA damage (by unzipping DNA strands), and are a major privacy violation isn't enough to prevent this multi-billion-dollar waste of taxpayer dollars from happening, nothing we can possibly say or do will prevent it, either. The only way this will stop is if we can convince enough people to stop flying. If these things went in and suddenly people said "screw you" and stopped flying, the airlines would push back on the government and this bullshit would stop. Until it hits the airlines in their pocketbooks---and hard---we will continue to see more and more of this invasive crap happening; the only thing that can stop it is public backlash sufficient to cause people to refuse to fly.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday January 11, 2010 @07:33PM (#30731438)

    'There is no way for someone in the airport environment to put the machine into the test mode,' [an anonymous] official said, adding that test mode can be enabled only in TSA test facilities. But the official declined to say whether activating test mode requires additional hardware, software or simply additional knowledge of how the machines operate.

    Leaving aside the idea of whether we really should care or not...

    By not answering, I think this official made the answer pretty obvious. Basically it's analogous to the RFID passport issue. When they say "it can only be done under these specific circumstances", they're simply leaving off the lead-in phrase "Our policy is clear - ". The erstwhile "restriction" is political, not technical.

    I imagine it won't be too long before some enterprising TSA employee - or a hacker - puts up a website with surreptitious photographs of cute women alongside their full-body scan images.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 11, 2010 @07:43PM (#30731530)
    For actual security purposes it would make sense to store images and network the machines. That way after the fact if there is a security lapse they can review someone's scan to see what was missed.
  • by biryokumaru (822262) * <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Monday January 11, 2010 @08:05PM (#30731750)
    Actually, this would be a great application for that Van Eck idea. Everyone's always playing with their wifi doodads at airports, no one will notice someone setting up an odd "wifi" antenna that just happens to capture the images on the security guy's monitor. Heck, maybe his flight is late in the day, he could be there for hours.
  • Re:amusing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by idontgno (624372) on Monday January 11, 2010 @08:56PM (#30732204) Journal

    Several folks are worried it might come to that. [nationalterroralert.com]

    And even after that, what happens when the bomb is surgically implanted? Penetrating x-rays and lots of explaining about medical implants? "Yes, officer, I really do have two artificial hips and a pacemaker. That's not a couple of sticks of dynamite and a trigger."

  • Re:No duh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by laron (102608) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:39AM (#30733984)

    That looks 'shopped. I can tell from some of the pixels...
    Seriously, unless someone can give a source for this image, I will assume that it is just a negative of a conventional photo. I don't think body scanners do this light/shadows stuff at all. And it would be more convincing, if the model was in the same pose for the clothed and nude pictures.

  • Re:... So? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sirlark (1676276) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:22AM (#30734148)

    I appreciated his fairly tough statements, but, frankly, I would have preferred that he be slightly less merciful and go ahead and fire some of the bureaucrats whose incompetence and malfeasance put Americans in jeopardy. That would have been a much clearer message that we have plenty of tools to find and halt terrorist plots now...and that the only thing that will truly deal with the problem is better intelligence gathering, analysis, and, examinations of why it is that so much of the world is pissed enough with America's policies that even well educated members of society are willing to blow them selves up to attempt to strike at us.

    In answer to your question as to why the world gets pissed off at Americans, consider the concept that there were probably some non-Americans on that flight. but clearly it doesn't matter if they were in danger, because Americans were in danger and that's way more important. The Christmas bomber attempted to commit a deplorable crime and put the lives of many PEOPLE in danger. Their nationality makes very little difference to their survival rate I'm sure, but then I am not a statistician.

    To answer the grand-parent, your health insurance companies would LOVE to get their hands on your scans, especially without your knowledge. Here is a full body scan taken of you that you yourself do not get to see. I honestly don't know whether the images we see online are mock ups of what would be seen or actual images from the machines, but it seems the machines can not only see through clothes but into the body as well, certainly some of these images [google.co.za] show skeletal structure. Are they high enough in resolution to detect large tumors? Small ones? We, the public, don't have enough details for us to make an informed decision. I for one am against any body scan where I don't have control over the results, including the right to review and destroy.

  • Re:amusing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xacid (560407) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:12AM (#30735922) Journal

    This is probably the first realistic argument AGAINST full body scanners that has appealed to my sense of reason.

    Honestly - I didn't have an issue with the scanners. The only potential for abuse I saw was just seeing naked people all day and well...that doesn't bother me much. I'd rather someone see my dangly bits off in some other room than be patted down every damned time I go through an airport. To me THAT is more invasive. I honestly don't think it's the crisis that everyone's making it out to be for the most part - and I'm a pretty strong advocate for privacy otherwise. What I have to see with things that become privacy issues are *sound* potential abuses before I can really judge them to be problematic. Your argument is the first I've heard of where this can cause an immediate threat to someone's safety and livelihood - so thanks for pointing it out guys/gals.

  • Re:amusing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:18AM (#30736554) Journal
    It's worth noting that whenever they show a scan on TV, they have the subjects put metal plates over their "naughty bits" for the scan. That says something.
  • Re:amusing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:31AM (#30737612) Journal
    Will that help if she stores the bomb in her uterus and claims to be pregnant (complete with forged doctor's certificate)? Could happen, and it would be very un-PC to give a pregnant woman a hard time...

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