January 18, 2011
In a recent decision, a Federal Judge has denied Electronic Privacy Information Center’s (EPIC) request for 2,000 images produced by TSA body scanners. The ruling was based on TSA’s assertion the images were made in a laboratory setting and not made at airport.
TSA has treated this ruling as justification to emphatically reassert their denial that body scanners do not have the ability to store and transmit images.
As a result of the additional lawsuits filed by EPIC, technical specifications of the airport scanners were obtained which refute TSA denials by showing that while the ability to store images is supposed to be disabled, the capability is present nonetheless.
So while the 2000 images are not, as TSA asserts, produced in the field; they are the only disclosed examples of the of the machine’s ability to store and transmit images.
Also from EPIC Memorandum:
EPIC has obtained the technical specifications and the vendor contracts for Whole Body Imaging (“WBI”) devices or “body scanners” commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), to be deployed by the Transportation Security (“TSA”) in American airports. This came about as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) lawsuit that EPIC has pursued against the DHS. EPIC is anticipating the receipt of other documents from the DHS as well as other federal agencies.
Among the key findings, based on the documents obtained so far by EPIC:
• The device specifications, set out by the TSA, include the ability to store, record,
and transfer images, contrary to the representations made by the TSA
• The device specifications, set out by the TSA, include hard disk storage, USB
integration, and Ethernet connectivity that raise significant privacy and security
• The device specifications, set out by the TSA, include “super user” (“Level Z”)
status that allows the TSA itself to disable filters and to export raw images.
• These documents contradict representations that the TSA has made to the public.
• The DHS Privacy office failed to adequately assess the privacy impact of these
Based on the materials received to date, EPIC concludes that further deployment
and contracting for body scanners should be suspended until the privacy and security problems identified are adequately resolved.
While TSA’s criminal evasion of the facts is typical of government agencies that feel they are above the law it may constitute perjury.