Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged full body scanner


Last month, the TSA began the task of removing the dangerous backscatter machines from airports. They never worked 100% and numerous health issues surrounded them. Now, however, instead of leaving them to sit and rot in a warehouse, never to be used again, the TSA is actively shopping the machines. They could end up in federal buildings across the nation where tourists and employees would be subjected to them.

“We are working with other government agencies to find homes for them,” Transportation Security Administration spokesman David Castelveter said. “There is an interest clearly by DoD and the State Department to use them — and other agencies as well.”

Members of Congress and privacy advocates raised objections to the almost-nude images of travelers produced by the backscatter machines. Congress passed legislation in February 2012 that required TSA to upgrade the machines’ software to display less-detailed images of passengers or to stop using the machines.

The backscatter machines also have sparked fears about radiation exposure since they were first installed.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, however, has stated that, if the backscatter machines cannot meet the requirements set forth by the government, then they should not be used at all. The machines were removed largely because Rapiscan, the computer that created the machines, could not alter its code so that nude pictures of individuals did not appear on their screens.

“The American public must be assured that these machines will not be used in any other public federal facility,” Thompson said.

A further question yet to be answered would be if individuals would be allowed to opt out of the machines in federal buildings and, if not, what if they have required business there? What would happen then?

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Just who are the TSA protecting and how far do their intimidation tactics go? That is what two journalists attempt to find out.

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Many are cheering the fact that the TSA has begun moving backscatter scanners from major airports around the country, but it isn’t all good news. These scanners are being moved to smaller airports and aren’t being mothballed as most had hoped. The larger airports are also getting the millimeter wave scanners, leading some to believe that the TSA is preparing to admit that the backscatter scanners are, indeed, dangerous. Millimeter wave scanners have a significantly lower radiation risk and do not have naked picture representations of passengers.

The backscatters, as the X-ray scanners are known, were swapped out at Boston Logan International Airport in early October. Similar replacements have occurred at Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O’Hare, Orlando and John F. Kennedy in New York, the TSA confirmed Thursday.

The X-ray scanners have faced a barrage of criticism since the TSA began rolling them out nationwide after the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009. One reason is that they emit a small dose of ionizing radiation, which at higher levels has been linked to cancer.

In addition, privacy advocates decried that the machines produce images, albeit heavily blurred, of passengers’ naked bodies. Each image must be reviewed by a TSA officer, slowing security lines.

To read the rest of my article, please visit The Daily Censored.

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From the very first installation of full body scanners at the nation’s airports there have been questions about their legality as well as their effectiveness. An unclassified report, which can be found on the US government’s website, now concedes that the scanners probably don’t work.

Read the rest of my article at The Daily Censored.

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