Despite the fact that the feds said that messages couldn’t be saved, but could be saved for training purposes and despite the fact that the feds reassured everyone that this function was not turned on in working machines and they wouldn’t be abused, they have now admitted that the function is turned on and some law enforcement agencies are using it.
The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.
William Bordley, an associate general counsel with the Marshals Service, acknowledged in the letter that “approximately 35,314 images…have been stored on the Brijot Gen2 machine” used in the Orlando, Fla. federal courthouse. In addition, Bordley wrote, a Millivision machine was tested in the Washington, D.C. federal courthouse but it was sent back to the manufacturer, which now apparently possesses the image database.
This particular Gen2 machine can also be operated remotely. Now, not only are the photos being stored, but they have to capability of not being monitored and stored at some, unkown, off-site location. How secure are these connections? Can they be hacked? Who is keeping the images when this occurs?
If your privacy isn’t being protected and respected at a courthouse, how is anyone supposed to continue believing that everyone has equal access to the law? If I was summoned to this courthouse I would have been forced through one of these machines without proper knowledge or consent of what they were doing with the images. If I refused to enter on these grounds, I’d most likely be found in contempt of court for whatever it was I was summoned for. How is this fair?
This privacy debate, which has been simmering since the days of the Bush administration, came to a boil two weeks ago when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that scanners would soon appear at virtually every major airport. The updated list includes airports in New York City, Dallas, Washington, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and Philadelphia.
These “devices are designed and deployed in a way that allows the images to be routinely stored and recorded, which is exactly what the Marshals Service is doing,” EPIC executive director Marc Rotenberg told CNET. “We think it’s significant.”
And that is why they filed a lawsuit to stop the use of these scanners.
“TSA is not being straightforward with the public about the capabilities of these devices,” Rotenberg said. “This is the Department of Homeland Security subjecting every U.S. traveler to an intrusive search that can be recorded without any suspicion-I think it’s outrageous.” EPIC’s lawsuit says that the TSA should have announced formal regulations, and argues that the body scanners violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits “unreasonable” searches.
The TSA has lied about the capabilities of the full body scanners from the start. Those who questioned its uses were thrown into the conspiracy crackpot category and were ignored. These devices do not make anyone safer and would not have prevented any of the recent attacks at the airports. Remember folks, if the government says something can’t be done or won’t be done, them mean right now, not in the future.
No one wanted full body scanners in the airports until the underpants bomber. Now we want them as they provide us security theater. Before we pretend to feel safe again, we should look at who has a vested interest in the company and remember that these devices will never stop terrorism and will never do what you want or expect them to do. Consider keeping your privacy and know that every day you step outside your house, you are in danger. Accept it and maybe, just maybe, we can stop allowing the government to dictate our fears.