Feeds

US airport body scanners can store and export images

Uproar likely over threat of blurry customs pr0n

The essential guide to IT transformation

Full body scanners at US airports can transmit digital strip search images of people, contrary to US Transportation Security Authority assurances.

The TSA has maintained that such scanners cannot store or transmit scanned body images of people, stating that "the machines have zero storage capability."

A TSA release stated that any scanned full body image "won't be stored, transmitted or printed, and [will be] deleted immediately once viewed." This is wrong too.

But according to documents obtained under freedom of information laws by EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), they do indeed have a storage capability.

According to the TSA procurement specification, v1.02, 23 September 2008, the scanner, termed a Whole Body Imager (WBI) will have "a high capacity read/write drive... to permit data uploads and downloads." It will also "provide capabilities for data transfers via USB devices" and support both Ethernet and TCP/IP. Field reporting data for up to a year will be stored on the hard drive.

The procurement spec specifies two operating modes. In screening mode the WBI system will "prohibit the storage and exporting of passenger images."

However, "when not being used for normal screening operations, the capability to capture images of non-passengers for training and evaluation purposes is needed" and this is provided in test mode. In screening mode, the system will be prohibited from exporting passenger image data. The spec states: "During Test Mode, the WBI shall not be capable of conducting passenger screening."

Therein lies the rub. The system does not know a passenger from a non-passenger - both are simply humans inside the system's scanning field. The spec does not state how the system is switched between modes.

Another document obtained by EPIC says one system, identified by the government, can record images for training purposes. This capability is configurable at a superuser level and will be disabled in operational systems.

So that leaves us with full body scanners that can capture strip search scanned images of people when in test mode and export them either by USB or TCP/IP transfers (which are subject to certain security restrictions), and at least one system that can store scanned images.

That leaves privacy campaigners salivating at the mouth with the possibilities for information abuse, and the TSA with much egg on its face for issuing misleading statements. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.