October 12, 2007

TSA's Voyeurs Return: Enjoy Your Flight

Greetings. The Transportation Security Agency is now testing its latest "security" toy at various airports, another full body scanner (a millimeter wave device this time) that takes detailed naked photos right through passengers' clothes. And naturally, we're hearing the usual promises that there's no privacy invasion. The images aren't saved says TSA. The personnel viewing the images aren't at the security checkpoints, and faces are obscured, we're assured.

Sorry gang. TSA can promise whatever they want, but these sorts of privacy claims are utterly worthless. We have no way to know what the machines are really doing in terms of storing or transmitting even unaltered images. We've heard the same kinds of promises before regarding law enforcement use of CCTV systems, and they've been turned into voyeuristic tools nonetheless.

Having the viewer of the images at a remote location doesn't prevent abuse. All it takes is a cell phone camera and it will be no time at all before copies of the more "entertaining" body images (even if theoretically "anonymous") are pasted up in people's offices, homes, or circulating on the Net.

The abuse is real even if the naked images aren't labeled by name. And odds are that enterprising folks will find ways to associate names and images somehow as well -- the market for celebrity-related goodies is so intense that this is bound to happen. These body image scanners, like others that TSA has been experimenting with, are just another privacy abomination masquerading as security. The only good thing about this new one is that unlike TSA's other pet peeping tom body scanner, it's not using x-rays. Whoopee.


Posted by Lauren at October 12, 2007 09:02 AM | Permalink
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