Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Advanced Imaging Technology: Storing, Exporting and Printing of Images

It's being reported that the Advanced Imaging Technology (also known as body scanners) being used by TSA has the ability to store, print and export images.

The truth is, the procurement specifications require these machines be capable of functioning in both a screening operation environment at the airport, and in a test mode environment. A test mode would be used at our testing facilities at the Transportation Security Integration Facility (TSIF) and the Transportation Security Lab (TSL). As you can imagine, the ability to store, export and print are crucial in a testing environment. TSA documents and manages approved configurations for all procured equipment, which are verified both in the factory and in the field prior to operational use.

All functionality to store, export or print images is disabled before these machines are delivered to airport checkpoints. There is no way for Transportation Security Officers in the airport environment to place the machines into test mode.

The Privacy Impact Statement (PIA), versions of which have been out since 2007, have each said the same thing: "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."

AIT machines do have USB, hard disc and Ethernet capabilities, but these are for limited data transfer only - an officer's user ID, log-in and log-out time, and statistical data. Images cannot be transmitted or stored. Also, these machines are not networked, so they cannot be hacked.

TSA has been forthcoming with the traveling public about this technology, including the strong privacy protections we have in place. We've posted many times on Advanced Imaging Technology and you can read more on our blog and at

Also, contrary to popular rumor, AIT portals cannot "beam you up."

On a slightly unrelated note, there are many different inaccurate images circulating out there. Below, you will see accurate examples of what our officers see while using advanced imaging technology. Anything else you see is inaccurate.


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TSA Blog Team