100 controversial whole body imaging photos revealed

Gadget blog Gizmodo.com has obtained access to 100 images captured by a whole body imaging machine that was installed at a Florida courthouse. We covered the incident back in August, but a Freedom of Information Act request has finally produced the actual photos.

When these machines were installed, we were all told that none of them would actually store photos. As images started leaking out, it became obvious that these claims were of course false. In the video clip created by Gizmodo, you see people occupying the scanner, along with his or her body scan.

There is some good news – as the images clearly show that they don’t reveal all that much. People hoping to see clear images of genitalia will be quite disappointed.

Still, it is quite alarming that the images were stored in the first place – though we do need to point out that this particular scanner was not operated by the TSA – it is a millimeter wave scanner, operated by the U.S. Marshals service. Even though the technology and operation is slightly different from the airport machines, the resulting images are very similar.

Of course it also means that despite all the reassurances, the machines are capable of storing photos, and I am confident that it is just a matter of time till an airport is involved in a similar privacy incident.

What do you think? Do these photos make you more or less afraid to use the whole body scanning machines?


[Image from Gizmodo.com]


New York area airports no longer immune from the whole body imaging machine

After the rest of the country, the large New York area airports are next in line to receive the infamous whole body imaging scanners. The Port Authority announced that La Guardia, JFK and Newark will receive 39 of the machines (24 for JFK, 14 for Newark and 1 for LaGuardia).

As of right now, the machines are still voluntary, and are only used when you have been selected for secondary screening. You are allowed to opt-out and request an old fashioned pat-down, but TSA agents often “forget” to point this out, as a manual screening takes more time.

The machines themselves are still quite controversial, and not without their problems – just ask Rolando Negrin, who beat up his supervisor after he was mocked for his “small manhood” during a TSA training session. Jo Margetson is probably not a big fan either, after a checkpoint operator complimented her on her “gigantic tits“. But more importantly, the safety aspects of these machines have not been fully tested.

The first batch of machines will be installed in New York next month.

[Photo from Getty Images]

xkcd solves the problem of anxiety at the airport whole body imager line

Not much more I can add to this comic – if you are worried about what you’ll be showing the operator at the airport whole body imager, xkcd has the solution. I’m not sure it’ll be worth $20, but it sure would make for a more entertaining security line.

Of course, you could always save some money and go with the Flying Pasties (do not click if you can’t stand the image of a grown man in pink ladies underwear.)

Source: xkcd.com

Scientists question safety of airport full body scanners

As soon as the underpants bomber was caught, the US department of Homeland Security started a rapid deployment of full body scanning equipment. These new scanners can see under clothes, and are designed to check for bombs or other suspicious items.

The technology is by no means new, and the Transportation Security Administrations has been using similar technology for years, but only on a very limited basis. Since the first of these machines made it to an airport, the TSA has been very vocal about telling the traveling public that they are 100% safe, and that we have nothing to worry about.

Except for the risk of too much exposure to ionizing radiation that is…

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco are disputing the claims that the machines are safe – and have presented their own research on the effects of the radiation from a trip through a whole body scanner.

According to the researchers, the calculated amount of radiation was based upon an average over the whole body – but the number that actually gets deposited in your skin may be higher – though they don’t know by how much.

Rapiscan, who build the majority of the machines being installed around the nation refused to comment on the findings, but the TSA repeated that travelers would need to go through the machines thousands of times just to reach the radiation levels you receive when you get a chest X-ray.

David Brenner, head of Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research also aired his concerns – “There really is no other technology around where we’re planning to X-ray such an enormous number of individuals. It’s really unprecedented in the radiation world”.

I’m not sure about you – but those findings don’t sit too well with me. I’m obviously not against technologies that can prevent terrorism, but there are limits to what the traveling public should be subjected to. When the scanners were first tested, their purpose was for secondary scanning procedures, not for mass scans of every passenger.


(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Small dick joke has TSA worker beaten up after security scanner incident

It was only a matter of time till the whole body imaging machines being installed around the country would set off some kind of nastiness. After the “love those gigantic tits” incident in the United Kingdom last month, the United States is finally getting a taste of the problems these machines can create.

During a training session at Miami International Airport, a TSA supervisor joked about the size of the manhood of one of his colleagues who had just stepped into the machine. The supervisor was operating the equipment when he made the remark – so his joke could have been based on facts.

Rolando Negrin couldn’t appreciate the jokes about his genitalia, so at the end of his shift, he used a police baton to beat up the supervisor in an airport parking garage. The police report states “victim stated he was in fear and complied with [Negron].” after being told to get down on his knees and apologize.

Negron was arrested the next day where he told police he had been made fun of by his co-workers. He has been arrested and booked into the local jail.

As usual – the first thing that comes to mind is that we yet again get evidence of the professionalism of the TSA – the people hired to protect our skies apparently think it is OK to assault someone in a parking garage. That said – I can totally understand why someone would get a little upset over a bunch of “small dick” jokes, especially if said colleagues have actually seen naked images of you.

Of course, this is the worst kind of PR you can possible get when trying to convince the public about the effectiveness of whole body imagers. We’ve all been told that our privacy is safe, and that images will never be stored – but the good folks at the TSA managed to screw that up in just one afternoon, all thanks to their juvenile pranks.

For all the details on the incident, head on over to The Smoking Gun for the police affidavit.

Update: The TSA blog has issued a statement about the incident. As usual, they are “taking it seriously” and are “looking into it”.