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Court captures 35,000 naked ghosts

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US Marshals have built a collection of more than 35,000 "virtual strip search" body scans at one Florida courthouse in just six months, despite wider assurances the technology cannot store images, it's been revealed.

The service has installed a millimetre wave scanner at a federal court in Orlando to detect concealed weapons.

The Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC), a pressure group, went to court to force the agency to disclose details of how it uses the machine and 100 sample images.

"The disclosed sample images are representative of approximately 35,314 images that have been stored on the Brijot Gen2 machine employed by the District [courthouse], The US Marshals Service wrote.

"This total includes images of individuals screened as well as 'blank' images generated when the machine was inadvertently triggered and generated images that did not include individuals. The images were captured over a period from February 2, 2010 and to July 28, 2010."

The disclosure runs counter to other official assurances that body scanners will not store naked images.

Last summer the Transport Security Administration (TSA) claimed the technology to be deployed in airports was not capable of storing images, but it later admitted a "test mode" had in fact been activated in places and stored 2,000 images.

In the UK, the Department of Transport recently closed a consultation on a code of practice for using body scanners. It, like the TSA, says the machines will not be capable of storing images. ®

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