Feb 3, 2011
As the Transport Security Agency begins rolling out new “less revealing” body scanners in airports, gaining much media coverage, The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a watchdog group that has brought several lawsuits against the TSA over the body imaging program, has warned that the new machines do little to allay privacy violations, indeed, they are still capable of capturing and storing naked images.
The TSA claims that its new “Automatic Target Recognition” software “enhances privacy” because it does not produce graphic images of a person’s naked body, genitalia and all.
The TSA says that the software “instead auto-detects potential threat items and indicates their location on a generic outline of a person,”.
The machine produces a “cookie cutter” type image of the human body. If a person is cleared by the software, a flashing green “OK screen appears. Those who trigger a no’ will be subjected to the enhanced pat-down.
“One of the things this does is give greater confidence to the traveling public, because they are seeing the image also. They are seeing exactly what the security officer is seeing, that they can say ‘Oh, yeah, I forgot to take that piece of paper out of my pocket,’” TSA Chief John Pistole told the media at a press conference.
However, as usual, the TSA has been liberal with the truth regarding the new scanners, that is according to EPIC, which says it has documents proving the scanners still store naked images.
EPIC obtained the documents via a previous Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and it says that they “established that these procedures have the capability to store and record unfiltered images of passengers.”
Essentially the ATR software is programmed into the same body scanning machines that are already in use nationwide. All it does is place a mask on the resulting body image.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC told USA Today that the software is merely “a filtering technique”.
“…keep in mind that filters can be enabled and disabled by the operator.” Rotenberg added. “Perhaps TSA will place ‘no peeking’ signs over the display screen.” he said.
“The bigger news may be the decision to drop the plan for remote viewing.” Rotenberg also said, noting that TSA officials will now observe the passengers as they are being scanned, rather than from a remote viewing room.
The group has now filed a further lawsuit against the TSA for unlawfully withholding more documents about the recent software modifications to the Full-Body Scanners.
EPIC also notes that “The TSA has also not resolved concerns about image retention, health risks, or the effectiveness of the procedures.” These issues are the key components of EPIC’s lawsuit to that seeks completely suspend the controversial screening program.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.