August 05, 2010, 11:54 AM — The government has assured us that the images made from "Digital Strip Search"" imaging technologies like millimeter wave and backscatter imaging wouldn't be saved. They lied. It turns out the U.S. Marshals Service saved more than 35,000 "whole body" images of people who entered a U.S. courthouse in Orlando, Fla.
And, if the U.S. Marshals Service can do this, why should we trust the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to keep their word about deleting these images? I can't think of any good reason, can you?
Oh, I'm sure the TSA policy will be to delete the images ... except for, oh I don't know, if they do think they spot a bomb on someone. Then, they'd want to keep the image in case in the resulting search there's a rumpus and the passenger sues them for an unreasonable search. Or, say some near-minimum-wage TSA contractor thinks you're really hot and wants to keep your naked image as a keepsake. Or, he or she thinks your x-ray unclad photo is hilarious and wants to share it with their buddies on Facebook. You get the idea.
Personally, I don't give a whoop. If someone really thinks a black and white image of a middle-aged, somewhat stocky technology writer is dangerous, sexy, or funny, I feel sorry for them. They need to get out more!
On the other hand, while I concede that millimeter wave and backscatter imaging can be helpful in airport security, I don't know that these technologies are really all that useful in keeping us safe.
What I do know is that if the government expects us to put up with this they need to come down like a ton of bricks on anyone who misuses this technology and not just wink at violations. For example, I'm depressed to see that the Marshals Service also tested a people scanner in DC and they didn't clean its hard drive before sending it back to the vendor.
Amazing. With government technology "savvy" like this, is it any wonder that we don't trust it? Seriously, why should we?