Friday, January 14, 2011

FOIA Request for 2,000 Images is for Lab Images, Not Checkpoint Images

MMW ImageYou may have read recently in a number of news articles and blog posts where a Federal Judge ruled that TSA did not have to release 2,000 Advanced Imaging Technology images as a part of a FOIA request from the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

This has led some to believe the images are from the checkpoints. That’s not the case. The images are from a lab and for testing purposes only. The subjects are hired by the lab and compensated for the use of their images for this testing. The machines in our labs store images, and the machines at airports cannot. As you can understand, the machines in a lab setting must have the ability to print and store images so the machines can be tested and the results can be studied. Machines in airports do not need this functionality. Not only do the machines not store images, the person viewing the image is in a remote location and never actually sees you.

Soon, there won’t be individual images at all.

You might be interested in this post about new image-free technology, or Automated Target Detection (ATR). This is software that’s used with the AIT and displays no image at all if no threat is detected. Otherwise, a computer generated, generic human image is generated on a monitor attached to the AIT machine. It highlights areas on the image to show where anomalies may exist. It does not display the actual image of the passenger like the current technology does.

Blogger Bob 
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.