Congressional report calls on TSA to address body scanner health risks and privacy concerns
Madison Ruppert — In a somewhat surprising report entitled, “Rebuilding TSA into a Smarter, Leaner Organization,” the Subcommittee on Transportation Security of the House Committee on Homeland Securityprovided a quite strong critique of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), even recommending that the TSA sponsor “an independent analysis” of the now ubiquitous body scanners.
The report not only calls on the TSA to investigate the health risks of the devices but it also recommends the installation of privacy filters on all of the devices.
Finally, our so-called representatives have actually pointed out that the TSA has completely and utterly failed to follow the ruling in the case of the Electronic Privacy Information Center vs. the Department of Homeland Security (EPIC v. DHS) in which a federal appeals court to receive public comments on the devices.
I find it especially absurd that DHS is now working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on new airport security technology when the TSA has yet to even properly address the concern surrounding the currently deployed devices.
The report covers several areas of reform broken up into five chapters: refocus on security mission, improve passenger experience and privacy protections, eliminate wasteful spending, support private sector job growth and eliminate unnecessary or burdensome regulations.
It is quite encouraging that the report cited the EPIC v. DHS decision since EPIC has been one of the strongest and most successful opponents of the DHS/TSA programs including a lawsuit filed over a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request concerning the use of Automated Target Recognition (ATR) software.
ATR software is one of the ways in which the privacy of travelers can supposedly be protected when using body scanners and it very well might be implemented in an attempt to satisfy the recommendations of the report.
“The TSA claims that the ATR software will eliminate the need for anyone to see naked images of travelers, and protect personal privacy,” EPIC explains. “However, it is unclear if, and to what extent, this is true. The way that traveler images are treated, potentially stored, and transmitted by ATR systems has not been publicly disclosed.”
EPIC has also been responsible for uncovering details about the DHS Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) program, helping prove that DHS officials blatantly lied to our so-called representatives and exposing Google’s spying program.
Unfortunately, the same lobbies which so heavily benefit from the fraudulent war on terror are the same ones which will be fighting against any reform, especially when it comes to actually exploring the dangers and privacy implications of the naked body scanner technology.
This is especially true when one considers that the use of this technology in the United States has been a major selling point for these companies which are clearly trying to export the useless devices to nations around the world.
If these devices were shown to be dangerous with little privacy protections and questionable utility, it would hardly be a notch on the belt of the many companies profiteering off of the war on terror.