Body scanners used as porn by airport security

It had to happen sooner or later.

The Nigerian newspaper This Day has reported that security officials at Lagos airport are getting their jollies by watching female passengers go through a full-body scanner.

Nigerian investigative reporters visited the airport during a slow period when security officials had time to spare. The journalists found some of them hanging around the scanner display. Since the scanner blurs the face in an attempt to give anonymity, the officers were hurrying over to the line to peek at the passengers before going back to the scanner to check out their favorites.

The scanner was installed after the failed attack by underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was from Lagos, yet technicians have revealed a full-body scan wouldn’t have caught him. An Israeli security expert who helped plan security at Israel’s super-strict Ben Gurion Airport says body scanners don’t work. Israeli airports don’t use the device.

Many Nigerians feel it is against their religion to expose themselves to a stranger, while others fear the effects of radiation. The investigative journalists witnessed passengers objecting to go through the scanner until security turned off one of the metal detectors, giving them the choice of using the full-body scanner or waiting in a longer line.

Feds cop to airport scanner porn

The feds are keeping an archive of under-the-flesh security shots. Though the TSA has said in the past that airport body scans can’t be stored or recorded, some agencies are now revealing archives of the revealing. Well, that isn’t true after all, according to CNET:

Now it turns out that some police agencies are storing the controversial images after all. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.

The TSA, it seems, requires all airport body scanners to be able to store images and transmit them – strange for a device that is supposed to do neither for “testing, training, and evaluation purposes.” Don’t worry, though. The TSA says these capabilities aren’t “normally activated when the devices are installed at airports,” reports CNET.

Translation: “Trust us. We could do something bad … but we won’t.”

So, next time you fly and fear that images of your privates may end up being stored somewhere, consider sticking some “Flying Pasties” to your unmentionables.So, how much security porn has been accumulated? According to William Bordley, associate general counsel with the U.S. Marshals Service says: 35,314 images in an Orlando, Florida courthouse. The device can store up to 40,000 images.

Relax, says the TSA. It’ Constitutional:

“The program is designed to respect individual sensibilities regarding privacy, modesty and personal autonomy to the maximum extent possible, while still performing its crucial function of protecting all members of the public from potentially catastrophic events.”

What are “individual sensibilities”? I think I’ll go with Justice Potter Stewart on this one: I know it when I see it.

[Photo credit: ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images]

Do full-body scanners at UK airports break child porn laws?

There’s been plenty of resistance to the new full-body scanners that have been installed in airports all over the world in the wake of The Great Underwear-Bomb Scare of 2009. Our own Scott Carmichael worried just last week that images of nude children could surface and find their way into the hands of pedophiles.

After Alan Johnson, the UK Home Secretary, announced yesterday that full-body scanners would be introduced at Heathrow Airport in about three weeks, many in the UK have grown concerned that a full-body scan of a child would break laws against child pornography. The law in question is the Protection of Children Act from 1978, which prohibits creating an indecent image or “psuedo-image” of a child.

“They do not have the legal power to use full body scanners in this way,” said Terri Dowty of the group Action for Rights of Children. Although she admitted the child porn laws do make an exception for preventing and investigating criminal activity, it’s unclear whether broad screening by airport security personnel falls under this exception.

A spokesperson for the UK Department of Transport said he “understand[s] the concerns expressed about privacy in relation to the deployment of body scanners.”

“It is vital staff are properly trained and we are developing a code of practice to ensure these concerns are properly taken into account,” he said.

We’ll keep you posted on the legal challenges that are sure to arise in the coming weeks and months.

More here.