Why I Always Opt Out From TSA's Super Scanners--posted by Tony Garcia on 10/25/2012
This is an old story but it is the reason that I always opt out of the TSA super scanners. Always.
The bottom line is that TSA has insisted that their machines cannot store images.
As reported by Declan McCullagh of CNET at the time, "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."Whoops. Last November I had a TSA agent insist that the images are not stored by TSA...so they are still maintaining this lie.
The images EPIC obtained were accompanied by a letter (PDF), in which William Bordley, an associate general counsel with the Marshals Service, admits that "approximately 35,314 images" have been stored on the Brijot Gen2 machine" used in the Orlando, Fla. federal courthouse.
Brijot, the manufacturer of the body scanning equipment in question, also admits that its machine can store up to 40,000 images and records.
In fact, it is mandatory to save the images.
EPIC, has filed two further lawsuits against the Department of Homeland Security over the scanners, claiming that the DHS has refused to release at least 2,000 images it has stored from scanners currently in use in U.S. airports. It is believed that these images are the more detailed "naked" ones that are causing so much furor.How comfortable are you going through those now?
The group points to a further document (PDF) it has obtained from DHS showing that the machines used by the department's TSA are not only able to record and store naked body images, but that they are mandated to do so.
The TSA has admitted that this is the case, but claims that it is for training and testing purposes only, maintaining that the body scanners used at airports cannot "store, print or transmit images".
TSA maintains that even though there is the capability (and the policy) to save the images (and not the cartoon-like images you see after you go through the machine but the detailed ones seen in the back room) there is not the ability to transmit them. But then how is it that the images are able to be distributed in the first place?
How detailed are the images? Well, I am not putting them up on the blog for one. But see if this describes it well enough.
Journalists who researched trials of the technology reported that the images made genitals "eerily visible".And a little more about how fuzzy or not fuzzy private areas are.
German Security advisor Hans-Detlef Dau, a representative for a company that sells the scanners, admits that the machines, "show intimate piercings, catheters and the form of breasts and penises".
Images on the TSA's own website produced by backscatter devices also show that genitals are visible.
Multiple incidents over the past months have proven that the TSA and other airport security authorities worldwide have been engaging in a monumental public relations cover-up by suggesting the machine do not show crisp images of naked bodies.That is just dealing with their story on the naked scanning capabilities of the machines. When it comes to safety their story is uniformly that the machines are safe. Given the track record through its entire history I find it highly difficult to suddenly trust that they are truthful on this one matter, the matter of safety.
In May it was reported that a TSA worker in Miami attacked a colleague who had made fun of his small penis after he passed through a scanner device. A similar controversy unfolded in March when an airport worker at Heathrow was caught ogling a a female colleague's breasts after she passed through one of the devices, commenting, "I love those gigantic tits".
If their demonstrated track record of honesty is an indication then these machines are likely to be pretty dangerous as well.
So, remember that when you are travelling you are NOT obligated to go through the scanners. You just have to tell them "Opt-out". You do NOT have to answer any question regarding your choice to opt-out. My advice, especially to women, is to have a public pat down.