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Airport travelers can be reassured, a new bill will make it more likely that the federal employee leering at their naked body won't share that image with his friends.  (Source: Corbis)

The federal government is spending billions in taxpayer money on the scanners, but they've been shown to be no more accurate than metal detectors at detecting dangerous materials like explosives.  (Source: Zimbio)
New law may placate some people's concerns about scanners, but does it go far enough

Every day thousands of Americans are leered at “in the buff” by U.S. Transportation Safety Administration employees.  This uncomfortable -- to some -- situation is justified in the name of national security.  Unfortunately, independent testing has shown the scanners to have trouble detecting some of the most dangerous types of materials -- low-density chemical products like explosives or plastic guns.

In a measure to placate a disgruntled public, the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate has moved to make it illegal to share images taken in the scans.  Under the pending provision in the Security Screening Confidential Data Privacy Act, sharing such an image could land you in jail for a year or net you a $100,000 USD fine.

Supposedly the scanners don't have the capability to save or transfer pictures.  Recent documents from cases involving the U.S. Federal Marshals reveal, though, that the scanners not only have these capabilities, but they are regularly used.

The bill is sponsored by Senators Charles Schumer (NY-D) [profile] and Ben Nelson (Nebr.-D) [profile] and co-sponsored by Senators Daniel Akaka (Haw.-D) [profile], Sheldon Whitehouse (Conn.-D) [profile], Jeanne Shaheen (NH-D) [profile], Jon Tester (Mont.-D) [profile], and Robert Menendez (NJ-D) [profile].  None of the Senate's 49 Republicans and neither of its 2 Independents sponsored the bill.

The new guidelines for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration are expected to pass through Congress relatively smoothly.  However, Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama, like the Republican President George W. Bush before him, will likely continue to push to expand the deployment and funding for the invasive body scans.

At the end of the day the question was, and still is -- how far is the U.S. prepared to go in the name of security?  With suicide bombers in places like Saudi Arabia trying increasingly unorthodox like inserting bombs in their rectal cavities [1] [2], one has to wonder exactly how intimately the federal government is willing to intimately poke, prod, and image its citizens in the name of the "War on Terror" -- and how much taxpayer money the government is willing to spend to do so.

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By FITCamaro on 2/10/2011 9:08:26 AM , Rating: 5
Why do we need a new law for this? It's already illegal to share such data.

More "LOOK AT US! WE'RE DOING SOMETHING!" legislation. Goes right up there with grilling oil executives every few years which concludes with no illegal activity or negative findings of any kind, questioning MLB on steroids, etc.

RE: Umm....
By quiksilvr on 2/10/2011 9:10:32 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't it sad that this wasn't officially illegal the day these things were implemented and the Senate has to get involved just to make something so obviously illegal...illegal?

RE: Umm....
By The Raven on 2/10/2011 10:47:50 AM , Rating: 4
Don't worry. If any of those images made it to the internet the gov't will be able to get them off. ;-)

RE: Umm....
By Souka on 2/10/2011 11:37:21 AM , Rating: 4
They shuold make the pics public... have a rating system.

Once a pic reaches a certain approval rating then they become unavailable without a site membership.

Seems fair to me... and rememeber, you don't HAVE to fly...

(for those you don't realize, I'm being sarcastic)

RE: Umm....
By energy1man on 2/10/2011 4:42:30 PM , Rating: 1
The TSA is already testing software at Atlanta and certain other locations, that eliminates all of these concerns. From their website.

The new software will automatically detect potential threat items and indicate their location on a generic outline of a person that will appear on a monitor attached to the AIT unit. As with the current version of AIT, the areas identified as containing potential threats will require additional screening. The generic outline will be identical for all passengers. If no potential threat items are detected, an "OK" will appear on the monitor with no outline.

It might help for Mr. Mick to stay up with what is currently going on with the tech, if he is going to blog about it in such a lopsided fashion. Probably asking for too much with that.

RE: Umm....
By Brandon Hill on 2/10/2011 9:16:17 AM , Rating: 4
Well, I can think of at least one NY Republican Congressman who wouldn't mind having his images shared with these newfangled body scanners ;-)

RE: Umm....
By theapparition on 2/10/2011 11:08:38 AM , Rating: 4
He was just looking for love in all the wrong places.

RE: Umm....
By mdogs444 on 2/10/2011 9:31:49 AM , Rating: 5
While I agree, the bigger question is why is this even necessary? The DHS originally told us that the pictures are not even saved to a disk in the first place - so if they cannot be saved, how can they be shared?

I don't think creating legislation to make it criminal is the answer, when all they are really doing is covering up for the branches of federal government that have been caught lying with their foot in their mouth.

Perhaps they should be charging the officials who lied to the public with criminal offenses.

RE: Umm....
By FITCamaro on 2/10/2011 10:17:09 AM , Rating: 3

RE: Umm....
By ipay on 2/10/2011 12:48:50 PM , Rating: 2
so if they cannot be saved, how can they be shared?

Remember that lady that was charged by RIAA for singing in her store?

This is similar, in that workers that watch the images can't say nothing about the person to colleagues.
So things like "that woman has really nice round boobies" is now a fast jail ticket.

RE: Umm....
By Solandri on 2/10/2011 2:49:00 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think creating legislation to make it criminal is the answer, when all they are really doing is covering up for the branches of federal government that have been caught lying with their foot in their mouth.

It occurs to me that there could be more to it than that. This doesn't just make images distributed by perverted DHS employees illegal. It also makes it illegal to use the images on any website attempting to demonstrate to the public why these scanners are an invasion of privacy. Now you have to settle for "a nearly photo-realistic B&W image of you naked" text description instead of picture demonstrating it.

Maybe you can skirt the law by putting a mosaic over the people's faces and genitals?

RE: Umm....
By catavalon21 on 2/10/2011 7:29:35 PM , Rating: 2
The DHS originally told us that the pictures are not even saved to a disk in the first place - so if they cannot be saved, how can they be shared?

And we actually believed them? My guess is they are indeed able to be retrieved later ... evidence, and all...much easier to design it in from the start than to wish it was there later.

RE: Umm....
By vortmax2 on 2/10/2011 10:13:41 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed...notice that 'democratically controlled' was mentioned to make it seem like they're 'doing something'. Politics at their best/worst.

RE: Umm....
By nolisi on 2/10/2011 12:27:00 PM , Rating: 2
And this is absolutely, 100% the only thing they're doing.

Grow up. This is one of many issues that the entire senate including Republicans and Democrats are engaging.

RE: Umm....
By Hieyeck on 2/10/2011 10:35:35 AM , Rating: 3
I've always wondered what happens when a kid is subjected to the scan. Doesn't that constitute child pornography?

RE: Umm....
By The Raven on 2/10/2011 10:49:14 AM , Rating: 3
I don't know about that, but it does constitute gov't stupidity.

RE: Umm....
By Shadowmaster625 on 2/10/2011 2:57:03 PM , Rating: 2
It is an occult ritual to show their complicity with body scanners and every other sci-fi nightmare they can think of. It's like when a bunch of corrupt city council members scam taxpayers out of $5 million, then pass an ordinance making it illegal to steal the rainwater that falls on your own roof. It's just a bunch of corrupt scum letting the people know how evil they are, and that there is nothing the people can or will do about it.

RE: Umm....
By FaaR on 2/11/2011 4:54:33 PM , Rating: 1
So when are we going to see you start bitching and whining over the new-ish anti-mexican law in arizona then? As I'm sure you're well aware, it's already illegal to be an illegal immigrant, so that's just posturing also by your logic.

...Right. That's what I thoght. ;)

By Motoman on 2/10/2011 9:53:49 AM , Rating: 2
This uncomfortable -- to some -- situation is justified in the name of national security.

No it isn't. The utterly ineffectual charade known as the TSA is trying assert that it's all the other useless BS they put you through...but it isn't.

RE: No
By Iaiken on 2/10/2011 10:23:50 AM , Rating: 3
Indeed, numerous studies have been done and every time the TSA agents had no foreknowledge of the individuals performing the tests/studies, the TSA failed.

The ONLY times the TSA managed to pass the tests when the agents were alerted that a test was going to be conducted that day. In the early days, detailed descriptions of the people conducting the tests were even given out to TSA screeners.

Without these notifications, the TSA has typically failed to find ~90% of the guns and bombs that the covert tests attempted to smuggle through security since 2007. The TSA continues to not only fail these tests, but to do so while wasting the time and money of numerous travelers everywhere and stripping them of right after right. They failed to stop two attempted bombings only recently and both of them were mundane efforts.

It's a dog and pony show for making people feel safer, it doesn't actually accomplish anything. At LAX I was party to a brilliant demonstration where people started talking everyone wound up opting out of the scanner and eventually the agents just started waving people through while others were being patted down just to keep the line moving.

RE: No
By FITCamaro on 2/10/2011 12:24:26 PM , Rating: 2
The real stupidity is that these measures are being taken in response to security failures in FOREIGN nations. The underwear bomber guy got on a plane in Europe. How does a stronger scanner here prevent him from getting on a plane there?

RE: No
By Strunf on 2/11/2011 8:06:18 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe cause 99% of the US terrorists attacks start and end in the US?...

RE: No
By FITCamaro on 2/11/2011 12:28:29 PM , Rating: 2
Reading comprehension. You needs it.

Either that or you are incredibly stupid.

RE: No
By Strunf on 2/14/2011 7:41:29 AM , Rating: 1
Dude, you state that your scanners don't help against the terrorists attacks that start outside of the US, I'm telling you they don't have to, most terrorists attacks start and end in the US... seriously I don't understand why the fuck it's the Europeans that should pay for the American insecurity! And yes there are countries in Europe that are also testing these body scanners.

RE: No
By flyingrooster on 2/10/2011 11:15:34 AM , Rating: 3
Did you know that you are more likely to die from cancer induced by the radiation from these scanners than a "terror attack" on the plane? I'd rather take my chances, at least I can try to stop the terrorists on the plane. Why would you willingly subject yourself to unnecessary ionizing radiation?

RE: No
By FITCamaro on 2/11/2011 12:31:30 PM , Rating: 2
What really pisses me off is that if you try to refuse the scanner, they make you wait like 10-15 minutes for them to go get somebody to pat you down. They don't have anyone on hand to do it. I tried to refuse the scanner and they would have had to call someone from another part of the airport in order to do the pat down. I had to make my flight so I did the scanner. Luckily the airports I normally fly between don't have the scanners.

come on
By Fanatical Meat on 2/10/2011 10:13:17 AM , Rating: 1
listen the images from these look stupid anyways, however I do understand someone who flies frequently or is famous may not want to constantly go in these things for exposure or the image being leaked but anyone else is being stupid and we all need to stop talking about this because its making an issue out of something really minor.

RE: come on
By SiliconJon on 2/10/2011 10:30:32 AM , Rating: 2
Many of the images touted by "reporters" are years old, from antiquated equipment. Power and capability have vastly increased since then. We have not yet seen a single, full-quality raw image from these devices (be sure, their power output levels, and thus image quality, are adjustable). The closest we have seen to max-capability were some cellphone shots of one of the monitors in 2010, which was significantly more detailed than most of the pictures that cover these images, and even the pic on the monitor was not 1:1 as it was shrunk to fit the monitor.

RE: come on
By wookie1 on 2/10/2011 10:36:03 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think that those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to preserve your freedom, liberty, and right to privacy would agree. You give up so easily what they sacrificed everything for, and for no benefit. The TSA has never stopped any attacks, the airplane passengers appear to be the only effective defense.

Treating everyone who simply wants to travel like a prison inmate does not make us any safer. People have gotten through the porno-scanners with weapons undetected. It's also unlikely that they would have found the explosives the underwear bomber was carrying. But why not have some flunky look us over for his/her amusement or gratification.

I second the previous poster's question about why is this necessary when supposedly there is no way to save images? Of course, nobody believed that lie anyway. You know that the TSA would want to save images to cover their ass when someone got through the porno-scanner with weapons so that they could point out that it's not their fault, the weapons were'nt visible on the scan.

RE: come on
By The Raven on 2/10/2011 10:57:31 AM , Rating: 2
Well there is this thing called "The National Debt" and we don't have money for this nonsense, whether you mind the scan or not. The military is a huge chunk of that along with entitlement programs, etc. but every little thing counts and it is the attitude/mindset of the people who get these kind of things going that is the real crux. Get that in check and we might be able to get the social programs, etc. under control.

By vectorm12 on 2/10/2011 5:48:19 PM , Rating: 2
Well if the goal is to discourages visitors to the U.S. then mission accomplished. My company have offices in both Stockholm and LA but since these scanners were installed I've declined all travel to the U.S. not to mention the fact that I frequently used to travel to Miami for vacation at least once a year.

The degree of invasion of my person as well as the potential medical complications of these scanners is all the reason I need to choose another country to vacation in.

RE: Congratulations
By vectorm12 on 2/10/2011 5:57:43 PM , Rating: 2
My final point ofc being that even if they make "sharing" of these images illegal(btw why wasn't this a crime to begin with?)

I'm not willing to put myself, my girlfriend, sister or anyone else through these things just to make some clueless jackass feel like it's any safer because I did so.

Have fun with the scans...
By KendoTek on 2/13/2011 1:53:11 PM , Rating: 2
How funny would it be if every guy were to take a little blue pill before going through the scanners... Come on, why not have fun at the expense of the system?

By callmeroy on 2/11/2011 9:29:27 AM , Rating: 1
This is one of those issues I just don't get. That is people nervous / upset/ whatever about the thought of folks laughing or doing whatever from the other side of the screen when you are getting a full body scan.

I think this is largely a self-esteem / paranoid type thing than anything else.

1 - The folks looking at the screens aren't physically in front of you or in plain sight of the public at all, so its not like you look up and see people at monitors laughing and point as they smile your way.

2 - Unless you are going to share my pics with the world and take out full page ads in newspapers or billboards....why am I going to get upset over a stranger, I don't know about, laughing or gawking at my pseudo naked image on a monitor screen. Sorry I'm just not that insecure and I have more things on my mind to worry about in any given day.

Now if you do the former -- share my image with everyone, make it public....then of course I have a problem -- but then I get to sue you. Humilation and embarrassment would suck I'm not gonna lie -- but you as the offending person would be in jail and I'd own what you once did...even if its not a lot -- to know you don't have anything at all...would make me smile a bit.

3 - If you really want to see my hairy 30 pounds over weight arse.....then you have more problems than just being a pervert collecting and sharing strangers "naked" scanned images.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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