Happy new year! Over the holidays, I read an article titled “The TSA Is Laughing at You” talking about what happens in the resolution rooms where body scanner images are viewed. We’ve talked about this many times in the past, but information is often spread through uninformed sketchy third-hand sources. So, I just wanted to post on privacy issues again.
First off, I want to make it clear that since the implementation of new software on our body scanners, many of the rooms are no longer in use. Instead, a generic image is used for millimeter wave scanners. You can read more about the software here. This is what the image looks like:
|Millimeter Wave Image|
These resolution rooms are still used in locations where backscatter machines are in place. For units that do not yet have the new software, TSA has taken all efforts to ensure passenger privacy. The officer who assists the passenger never sees the image the technology produces and the officer who views the image is remotely located in a secure resolution room and never sees the passenger. The two officers communicate via wireless headset. The resolution room is used only for the viewing of the images and is not a gathering place or break room for other officers as the officer viewing the images has to be focused in order to prevent any dangerous items from entering the airport.
Advanced imaging technology cannot store, print, transmit or save the image, and the image is automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer. Officers evaluating images are not permitted to take cameras, cell phones or photo-enabled devices into the resolution room. Initially, it was feared by the traveling public that these images would be leaked and posted online. This has not happened. To further protect passenger privacy, backscatter technology has a privacy filters that blur images.
This is the image our officers see from the viewing room.
You can read even more about the body scanners here: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/advanced-imaging-technology-ait
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