Thursday, April 24, 2008

Safety & Privacy Concerns Regarding the Millimeter Wave Whole Body Imager

We've received many questions on the safety and privacy of the Millimeter Wave Whole Body Imager. As you can see from the chart above, the Millimeter Wave emits a smaller dose than simply walking outside on a sunny day.

I’ll quote a few noteworthy items from the Privacy Impact Assessment for TSA Whole Body Imaging. (PIA) I suggest you read the entire assessment for more information.

The Millimeter wave technology uses non-ionizing radio frequency energy in the millimeter wave spectrum to generate an image based on energy reflected from the body. The energy projected by the system is 100,000 times less than a cell phone transmission (.00000597 mW/cm2 for millimeter wave technology compared to 37.5 mW/cm2 for a cell phone)

The images created by whole body imaging technologies are not equivalent to photography and do not present sufficient details that the image could be used for personal identification.

While the equipment has the capability of collecting and storing an image, the image storage functions will be disabled by the manufacturer before the devices are placed in an airport and will not have the capability to be activated by operators.

The TSA is not the first organization to use Millimeter wave technology. It's currently used in various government locations across the United States, as well as international aviation and mass transit environments including:

Domestic locations Federal Court House (VA), Colorado Springs Court House (CO), Department of Corrections facility (PA), Los Angeles County Court House (CA), Cook County Court House (IL)

International airports U.K., Spain, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Thailand, Netherlands

The results in the first week of use at LAX and JFK speak for themselves.

LAX: 544 passengers were screened from 4/18 to 4/22 using Millimeter Wave technology. Only 18 passengers chose not to undergo the screening.

JFK: 1212 passengers were screened from 4/17 to 4/22 using Millimeter Wave technology. Only 33 passengers chose not to undergo the screening.


TSA EoS Blog Team

-----Update 5/25/2008-----7:00 PM EST-----

These are the signs that are displayed in front of the millimeter wave whole body imagers.


TSA EoS Blog Team