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Airport Body Scanners Store and Transmit Images, Contradicting TSA Statements

When full-body scanning started popping up at airport security checkpoints last year, travelers and privacy groups were up in arms. After all, who wants a revealing image of himself or herself stored on Transportation Security Administration (TSA) computers? Since then, the TSA has reassured us that the scanners neither store nor transmit images.

But according to a report from CNN, transportation officials might not be telling the whole truth. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) recently received documents detailing the technological specs of some scanners and the terms of the TSA's vendor contracts. According to these documents, the TSA requires that each scanner be able to store and send images when in "test mode." An unnamed TSA official confirmed this to CNN, but nobody is saying exactly what "test mode" entails. The same official said, "There is no way for someone in the airport environment to put the machine into the test mode." Supposedly, this mode is disabled before the machine is delivered to the airport. While that might be true, nobody can confirm that there are any precautions being taken to ensure this mode won't be re-enabled by an airport employee or a hacker.

We understand the need for airport security, but we also want that need balanced with our right to privacy. If EPIC's allegations are true, the TSA will surely have some irate air travelers on its hands -- as if flight delays and lost baggage hadn't made them that way already. [From: CNN]

Tags: airport, airport security, flight, images, privacy, security, top, travel, tsa