QUEENIEโ€™S BLOG

New TSA screening equipment “sees” too much

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was testing a new body scanner system to screen passengers at U.S. airports, but it seems the system was too revealing.

The images that the equipment created were too invasive and would pose privacy risks, according to a contracting document Quartz discovered.

The new screening system was part of TSAโ€™s aim to speed up screening at airports, but it lacked the privacy filters needed for visual images. The machine which is called TAC, is a โ€œpeople-screening camera that sees any type of itemโ€”including metal, plastic, ceramic, gel, liquid, powder and paperโ€”hidden in peoplesโ€™ clothing at distances of 3 to 10m,โ€ or 10 to 32 feet.

As for how revealing is โ€œtoo revealing,โ€ Jay Stanley, an ACLU policy analyst, told Quartz, โ€œThe higher the resolution of the screen, the worse it is. It could be genitalia, it could be a colostomy bag.โ€

The manufacturer, ThruVision Inc. of Ashburn, Virginia, is said to be working on an โ€œenhanced privacy softwareโ€ to fix to the privacy issue.

The TSA has spent $662,840 on the system and the software fix is going to cost $250,000.

This isnโ€™t the first time that the TSA has had privacy issues with their screening equipment. From 2007 to 2013, it was discovered that the TSA scanners were a โ€œvirtual strip searchโ€ that shared pictures of passengers’ genitalia, breasts, and buttocks with TSA employees. ACLU and the Electronic Privacy Information Center sued the TSA over these machines, and thanks to public outcry, the machines were replaced with less-intrusive scanners.

Bruce Schneier, a technologist and privacy expert who has studied airport security, seems wary of the reported software โ€œfix.โ€

โ€œThere are lots of definitions of โ€˜fix,โ€™โ€ Schneier said. โ€œSome work, some donโ€™t.โ€

Per: Travel Pulse

 

 

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