Friday, August 6, 2010

TSA Response to “Feds admit storing checkpoint body scan images”

An article from cnet has been making the rounds today about the US Marshal Service (NOT Federal Air Marshal Service) storing Advanced Imaging Technology images at a Florida courthouse checkpoint (Not a TSA checkpoint). This has led many to ask if TSA is doing the same.

As we’ve stated from the beginning, TSA has not, will not and the machines cannot store images of passengers at airports. The equipment sent by the manufacturer to airports cannot store, transmit or print images and operators at airports do not have the capability to activate any such function.

Feel free to read a post from earlier this year: Advanced Imaging Technology: Storing, Exporting and Printing of Images You can also read all of our other AIT related posts dating back to 2008 here. Our imaging technology page at has been updated as well.

Also, please note that the US Marshal Service falls under the Department of Justice, not under the Department of Homeland Security.

***Update - 12:00 - 8/6/2010***

The U.S. Marshals Service has issued a press release to clarify recent stories about the scanners they use. You can read it here.

Screen Shot of US Marshals Press Release
U.S. Marshals Service Press Release

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team


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Anonymous said...

I heard that you won't be ablet to opt out of a full body scan, stating the beginning of next year-2011. Is this true?

Anonymous said...

How do you explain the image of the Bay Watch woman being shown in the internet? If the image couldn't be stored or printed, how is this possible to circulate?

Elliander said...

It doesn't really matter if the machines have storage capabilities. They have to have RAM to operate at all. Under certain circumstances data can be recovered from the RAM of any computer during maintenance. Even if the data is not recovered when it comes to laws regarding child porn it doesn't matter how long the image existed. The FBI has argued in a number of cases that it doesn't matter how long the images remained on the computer.

By your logic pedophiles would be able to get around child porn laws by using RAM only devices to view such images and therefore escape responsibility. In reality the FBI does not define child porn as requiring a hard storage device. If it did it would be really easy to program a system to store images in RAM long term for as long as there is a continuous flow of power.

Child nudity in and of itself does not constitute child porn, it usually is dependent on community standards. It would really be impossible for me to say it would count as child porn everywhere, but it would count as child porn in many areas.

When the UK faced this issue that made children under 18 exempt from these procedures for these very reasons.

Anonymous said...

From my understanding the image is not actually stored. It exists in RAM (or else NOBODY could see it), so the data can be sent to the display. However there is no ability to store it (that is to save a copy on the harddrive). These machines have one of 2 things that PREVENTS storing on the harddrive.
1: There is a harddrive present, but storage to the drive requires accessing the "testing mode" which itself requires a password that only the manufacturer has access too (not the TSA agents).


2: The harddrive is removed prior to shipping to an airport for use. The operating system itself is built into a ROM (read only memory) chip in the machine, and can not store any data.

With regard to child porn when minors are concerned: The US law has consistently been interpreted to require the image to be more than just nudity. It must be something of a pornographic nature (images that show sexual conduct, or images that involve blatantly suggestive poses or closeups of the genitals). In one such case involving a photographer that went to court for photographing kids at a nudist camp, the judge found that there the image wasn't pornography, because the kids were engaged in activities kids would normally be engaged in (nothing sexual), and the mere fact that the kids were naked didn't make it porno. I believe the judge's wording in this case (or maybe it was a different one), were that if the image shows "nakedness and nothing more" it isn't pornography.
In fact if you go to the Guggenheim art museum's website, use their search feature and look up an artist/photographer by the name of "Sally Mann" you will find all of her photos are nude-art involving children, and it is perfectly legal. And yes, that museum is in the US. It is in New York City. So the argument that "it doesn't matter how long the image exists, because if it exists at all it is illegal", is an argument that DOES NOT HOLD in the US (might be different for other countries though).

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