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Rucker, PhillipTSA tries to assuage privacy concerns about full-body scansThe Washington Post, Technology, Special Reports, 10 January 2010 Last Checked 11/5/2010

  1. “Federal authorities, working to close security gaps exposed by the thwarted Christmas Day terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, are multiplying the number of imaging machines at the nation’s biggest airports. The devices scan passengers’ bodies and produce X-ray-like images that can reveal objects concealed beneath clothes.”
  2. “Forty units are in use at 19 airports, including Reagan National and Baltimore-Washington International Marshall airports. The Transportation Security Administration said it has ordered 150 more scanners to be installed early this year and has secured funding for an additional 300.”
  3. “Passengers selected for a full-body scan can decline, but if they do, they must submit to full-body pat-downs by a TSA officer.”
  4. “The technology was introduced a couple of years ago, but U.S. airports have been slow to install the machines, partly because of privacy concerns raised by some members of Congress and civil liberties groups.”
  5. “Passengers walk through the machines fully clothed; the resulting image appears on a monitor in a separate room and conceals passengers’ faces and sensitive areas.”
  6. “The issue is almost certain to be the subject of debate when Congress reconvenes this month. The House approved a bill in the summer limiting the use of full-body scanners, but the Senate has yet to take up the matter.”
  7. “Experts say, explosives can go undetected even in a full-body screening if potential terrorists conceal them in body cavities.”
  8. “The TSA has tried to assuage privacy concerns by saying that the digital images produced by the machines would be deleted after passengers clear checkpoints. But critics are not reassured.”

Homeland Security, Scanning


Chase, Katie Johnson., “Lawsuit challenges airport full-body scannersThe Boston Globe, Home/Business, August 4 2010 Last Checked 11/15/2010

  1. “A privacy advocacy group is suing the Department of Homeland Security to suspend the use of the controversial full-body scanners employed at airports across the country.”
  2. “The machines, which use X-rays or radio frequency energy to detect weapons and explosives beneath passengers’ clothing, have been much criticized because of privacy concerns.”
  3. “In the lawsuit, filed last month, the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., said the slightly blurred but accurate pictures of passengers’ naked bodies produced by the machines are the equivalent of a ‘digital strip search.'”
  4. “The suit says the program, run by the Transportation Security Administration, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, violates the Privacy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.”
  5. “The program also violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the lawsuit says, referencing religious laws about modesty.”
  6. “Court documents allege the scanners also violate the Fourth Amendment by having passengers undergo ‘a uniquely invasive search without any suspicion that particular individuals have engaged in wrongdoing.'”
  7. “The TSA declined to comment on the lawsuit, but spokesman Greg Soule said the agency is exploring ‘additional privacy protections through automated threat detection.’”
  8. “The TSA is working with technology companies to develop software that would show a generic paper-doll-like figure instead of an actual image of a passenger’s body — and transmit images only when a threat is detected.”
  9. “The TSA plans to keep the current scanners in place until less invasive software is available.”
  10. “This will not solve the privacy issues, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, because the images of travelers’ naked bodies are still being captured by the machine.”
  11. “According to the TSA, the scanners’ ability to store images is used for testing purposes only and is disabled before they are installed in airports.”
  12. “Officials at Logan International lobbied for the airport to be the first to have the full-body scanners installed. The TSA aims to deploy as many as 450 machines this year — adding to the 50 that were already in place at airports around the country — following the attempted terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day. And Logan is now pushing to be the first to implement the less invasive scanning software.”
  13. “And a group of University of California San Francisco scientists wrote to President Obama’s science adviser in April, stating that the dose of radiation from the X-ray scanners may be ‘dangerously high.'”

Homeland Security, Scanning


O’Connor, Anahad, “Airports Start Body Scans Next MonthThe New York Times, NY/Region, August 10 2010  Last checked 11/7/2010

  1. “The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced Friday that the scanners, which use imaging technology to display near-naked images of airline passengers, will be installed in the three major New York-area airports in September.
  2. “Exactly how many machines will be installed is unclear, but passengers leaving from La Guardia, Kennedy and Newark Airports can expect to be ushered through one as they pass through airport checkpoints. Passengers who do not want to be scanned, however, can opt to be patted down and walked through the standard metal detector.”
  3. “According to the Transportation Security Administration, at least 142 scanners are now in use at more than 40 airports, and the agency says it plans to have more than 450 in place by the end of the year.”
  4. “Proponents of the machines argue that they are necessary because standard metal detectors cannot detect nonmetallic explosives, which can be hidden in clothing. But critics say that terrorists can hide explosives in body cavities, where they cannot be detected by the scanners, and many worry that the machines will expose passengers to potentially harmful levels of radiation.”
  5. “The security administration has played down concerns about radiation, saying two-thirds of the scanners now installed use only minimal levels of radiation, while the remaining third use a form of radio wave technology.”

Homeland Security, Scanning


Editor, “Drive-by-full-body scanning“, Homeland Security Newswire, August 31 2010 Last checked 10/25/2010

  1. “Massachusetts-based American Science & Engineering is selling van-mounted backscatter X-ray detection system to law enforcement; these vans can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents”
  2. “Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at Billerica, Massachusetts-based American Science & Engineering, told Andy Greenberg of Forbes that the company has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter X-ray scanners mounted in vans. These vans can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents.”
  3. “While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the United States.”
  4. “The Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs, as the company calls them, bounce a narrow stream of X-rays off and through nearby objects, and read which ones come back. Absorbed rays indicate dense material such as steel. Scattered rays indicate less-dense objects that can include explosives, drugs, or human bodies. That capability makes them powerful tools for security, law enforcement, and border control.”
  5. “Greenberg notes that it would also seem to make the vans mobile versions of the same scanning technique that has riled privacy advocates as it is been deployed in airports around the country. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is currently suing DHS to stop airport deployments of the backscatter scanners, which can reveal detailed images of human bodies.”
  6. “‘It’s no surprise that governments and vendors are very enthusiastic about [the vans],’ says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC. ‘But from a privacy perspective, it’s one of the most intrusive technologies conceivable.'”
  7. “AS&E’s Reiss counters privacy critics by pointing out that the ZBV scans do not capture nearly as much detail of human bodies as their airport counterparts. The company’s marketing materials say that its ‘primary purpose is to image vehicles and their contents,’ and that ‘the system cannot be used to identify an individual, or the race, sex or age of the person.'”
  8. “the systems “to a large degree will penetrate clothing,” but he points to the lack of features in images of humans…”
  9. “EPIC’s Rotenberg is not persuaded, saying that the scans, like those in the airport, potentially violate the fourth amendment.”
  10. “Greenberg writes that TSA’s official policy dictates that full-body scans must be viewed in a separate room from any guards dealing directly with subjects of the scans, and that the scanners will not save any images. ‘Just what sort of safeguards might be in place for AS&E’s scanning vans isn’t clear, given that the company won’t reveal just which law enforcement agencies, organizations within the DHS, or foreign governments have purchased the equipment,’ he writes.”
  11. “Reiss says that the vans do have the capability of storing images. ‘Sometimes customers need to save images for evidentiary reasons,’ he says. ‘We do what our customers need.'”

Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, Scanning


Toor, Amar, “New York Lawmakers Try to Ban Body Scanners From Airports“,, November 19, 2010 Last checked 11/30/2010

  1. “If city councilman David Greenfield gets his way, travelers passing through New York City airports will no longer be required to walk through body scanners before boarding their flights. Yesterday, Greenfield and six other council members introduced a legislative proposal which would prohibit all New York City-based TSA employees from using Advanced Imaging Technology, capable of seeing through a passenger’s clothes.”
  2. “As of last month, 341 such scanners were in use at 65 airports around the country, but the TSA is hoping to have a total of 1,000 machines in operation by the end of the year.”
  3. “Travelers are allowed to opt-out of the scans, but doing so would require them to undergo a vigorous pat-down, instead.”
  4. “Greenfield believes that these scans simply violate passenger privacy without providing any substantive benefits to airport security.”
  5. “A March report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, however, claimed that advanced scanners may not have caught the infamous Christmas Day bomber, who boarded a plane with explosives packed in his underwear.”
  6. “Greenfield is hopeful that his measure will prompt other local lawmakers to take a similarly strong stand. The TSA has already come under fire from privacy groups like the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which is seeking federal action against the use of the scanners. Advocates have also organized a National Opt-Out day, on November 24th, to protest the TSA.”
  7. “Ultimately, though, federal law gives the TSA full authority over security at all U.S. airports, meaning that municipal bans may face an uphill battle.”
  8. “Still, Greenfield remains confident that local governments should have a greater say over what scanning techniques are employed at their airports — especially when said techniques involve such flagrant privacy violations.”

Homeland Security, Scanning


Editor, “ACLU Reports More Than 900 Complaints This Month Over “Enhanced TSA Security Measures“, American Civil Liberties Union, Technology and Liberty, November 24 2010 Last checked 11/30/2010

  1. “The American Civil Liberties Union has received over 900 complaints in the month of November from travelers who have been subjected to the Transportation Security Authority’s (TSA) new “enhanced” screening procedures.”
  2. “The procedures include sending travelers through backscatter X-ray machines that produce naked outlines of travelers’ bodies and subjecting them to thorough pat-downs that include TSA agents touching their breasts and genitals on the outside of their clothing.”
  3. “Most of the complaints, which were submitted through an online form on the ACLU’s website, came from travelers who reported feeling humiliated and traumatized by the procedures.”
  4. “Some of the excerpts include: ‘The TSA agent used her hands to feel under and between my breasts. She then rammed her hand up into my crotch until it jammed into my pubic bone.’;’I cried throughout the groping and have had intrusive thoughts since. It was humiliating.’;’The procedure was violating, degrading, invasive and humiliating.’;’I do not feel safer. I feel violated.'”

Homeland Security, Scanning