Full body scanner images expose private individuals on the web

image from z-backscatter scanner

Full body scanner images that were improperly saved showed up online, adding a dimension to the invasion of privacy posed by the machines. Image: CC francoiscuccu/Flickr

Full body scanner images of private individuals made it to the Internet today. The leak of the full body scanner images occurred after a U.S. Marshall in Florida saved and stored more than 35,000 of the images. Throughout the intense debate over full body scanners, the Transportation Security Administration has told air travelers that the images are automatically deleted.

Full body scanner images leaked to the public

The angry uproar over full body scanner images was turned up a notch when Gizmodo posted 100 full body scans on its website. The images were collected from a U.S. Marshall in a Florida federal courthouse through a Freedom of Information Act request. Although the low resolution images, taken by a “millimeter wave scanner” aren’t particularly revealing, Gizmodo said the fact that they were saved underscores the threat to personal privacy posed by TSA body scanner rules.

TSA body scanner rules violated

The full body scanner images taken by the “z-backscatter scanners” at airports more revealing than the low-res images. On its website, the TSA body scanner rules say its imaging technology “cannot store, print, transmit or save the image, and the image is automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer.” However, when full body scanner images showed up on Gizmodo, it served to illustrate how easily images taken by the so-called “porno scanners” can circulate if those operating them choose not to abide by TSA guidelines.

Private people, private parts

Full body scanner imaging was initiated by the TSA in 2007. Today it operates scanners at 68 airports in the U.S. Advanced z-backscatter imaging shoots air travelers with an ionizing X-ray beam to create an image of their naked body. In addition to a violation of privacy, people are concerned about the radiation exposure from the machines. So far the TSA has been impervious to those arguments. Gizmodo predicts that it’s only a matter of time before z-backscatter images expose the private parts of private people on the Internet.



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  • Jackro

    To me, this whole process violates the 4th amendment of illegal search and seizure. They can have them on property, and if they have "reasonable suspicion", then put that person through the machine or pat down. 9 years of using the old method, and 0 attacks, sounds pretty safe, so either there is something that we need to be told about, so we, as Americans, can both watch out for and be aware of and can then make the decision on what to do.

    • Archer

      I'm fine with the scan and if you feel it is too much of an imposition on your vanity or rights, then take another form of transportation. A bomb going off on my plane would ruin my afternoon (insert the usual caveats about probabilities and that there is generally never a 100% guarantee of anything).

    • Fredrika

      You never know what people are hiding under thier clothes. Explosives are flexible and moldable to the body and are not detected witht the metal detectors. The terrorists are getting smarter to our technologies, so we need to try to one-up them, A person being on that property automatically gives consent to a search to take place. If for example, you do not want to be searched at the airprt, then use other modes of transportation,

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