Airport Body Scanners Can Store Your Naked Image, After All

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Aug. 5 2010 5:07 PM

Airport Body Scanners Can Store Your Naked Image, After All

When the Transportation Security Administration started using body scanners that could see through people's clothes, it assured the public that—unlike nearly every other kind of electronic-image capturing device ever invented—the machines were incapable of storing or transmitting the images they captured. The scanners would inspect your naked body image for security purposes, then forget they ever saw you.


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.

This follows an earlier disclosure by the TSA that it requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for "testing, training, and evaluation purposes." 

But for the airport machines, those image-handling capabilities—"test mode"—are never, ever activated. According to the TSA. 

Tom Scocca is the managing editor of Deadspin and the author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future.

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