EPIC testifies before Homeland Security Hearing advising it suspend body scanner use at airports

EPIC testifies before Homeland Security Hearing advising it suspend body scanner use at airports

Summary: EPIC testifies before Congressional hearing suggesting government documents conflict with policy n how Body scanner technology will be used by the TSA.


The Electronic Privacy Information Center went before the House Homeland Security Committee urging the members to suspend the Transportation Security Agency deployment of 150 new body scanners at airports across the United States.

Marc Rotenberg testified, based on documents that EPIC has obtained the following concerns need to be addressed:

  • The device specifications for body scanners include the ability to store: record, and transfer images, contrary to the representations made by the TSA
  • The device specifications include hard disk storage, UB integration; Ethernet connectivity that raise significant privacy and security concerns
  • The device specifications include "super user" (Level Z") status that allows TSA employees to disable filters and to export raw images; and
  • DHS Privacy office failed to adequately assess the privacy impact of these devices.

The TSA website states the opposite occurs:

  • Strict privacy safeguards are built into the foundation of TSA's use of advanced imaging technology to protect passenger privacy and ensure anonymity.
  • The officer who assists the passenger never sees the image the technology produces.
  • The officer who views the image is remotely located, in a secure resolution room and never sees the passenger.
  • To further protect passenger privacy, millimeter wave technology blurs all facial features and backscatter has an algorithm applied to the entire image.
  • The two officers communicate via wireless headset. Once the remotely located officer determines threat items are not present, that officer communicates wirelessly to the officer assisting the passenger. The passenger may then continue through the security process.
  • Advanced imaging technology cannot store, print, transmit or save the image.
  • Officers evaluating images are not permitted to take cameras, cell phones or photo-enabled devices into the resolution room.
  • Each image is automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer.

During a White House Video roundtable "Open for Questions" Homeland Security Janet Napolitano confirmed this policy.

Marc Rotenberg was asked by Chairwomen Jackson Lee what recommendations it would make to strike a balance between technology screening processes and privacy concerns. Rotenberg replied that a layered approach of baggage, human observation and mix of technology is the best approach. "Those that are the most intrusive (technology) are the most concerning" Chairwoman Lee responded "not sure we will completely agree with that approach".

Witnesses testifying before the Committee :

Mr. Robin Kane Assistant Administrator Security Technology Transportation Security Administration

Mr. Bradley Buswell Deputy Under Secretary Science and Technology Directorate Department of Homeland Security

Dr. Susan Hallowell Director Transportation Security Laboratory Department of Homeland Security

Mr. Stephen Lord Director Homeland Security and justice team Government Accountability Office

Mr. Kenneth J. Dunlap

Director of Security

International Air Transport Association

Mr. Charles Barclay


American Association of Airport Executives

Col. Eric R. Potts (Ret.)

Interim Aviation Director

Houston Airport System

Mr. Marc Rotenberg

Executive Director

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Mr. Brook Miller

Vice President, Government Affairs

Smiths Detection

Mr. Mitchel J. Laskey

President and CEO

Brijot Imaging Systems, Inc.

Additional resources:

Committee Video

Human x-ray machines: Coming soon to an airport near you

EPIC wants TSA to halt implementation of body scanners at airports

White House Video Blog - Airport Security Q&A with Janet Napolitano

EPIC wants TSA to halt implementation of body scanners at airports

Human x-ray machines: Coming soon to an airport near you

Amsterdam's Schiphol starts body-scanning at airport

FBI Director on cyber threats: We can't do it alone

US Strategic Command recognizes cyber security challenges

Intelligence community warns Senate committee of increased terror threats

Topics: Government US, Government

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  • Homeland Security not secure

    This latest revelation only supports the fact that our Homeland Security apparatus is totally out of control.

    Simply put, Homeland Security is nothing more than a massive jobs program with a special attraction for control freaks.
  • Chi Bono Esse?

    Whether one believes the incidents on September the 11th or bombings in London in underground were organized by a sophisticated group of individuals living in caves with not electrical outlets to charge their cell phones or staged by private organizations supported by government agencies in some manner in order to implement just such measures to enslave its population we need to ask from all of this chi bono?

    Is it the resistance organization or those that wish to enslave us and the private corporations associated with them? A residence organization has one objective, to get the occupiers out. That is their God given right. The Viet Cong had succeed at this without bombing a single national in the U.S. Thus it has been proven in recent history against the U.S. that to remove it from occupying, the occupied nation needs to show the world the atrocities of the U.S.?s occupation. It is more effective at gathering humanly garnered sympathetic support. I guess that is why the U.S. military has embedded journalists this time and near all media coverage is nonexistent or censored. However that group of people in the middle east, I m not sure which one(s) since they have not been clearly identified just a blanket name given to them, were to engage in acts of resistance in the U.S. (outside of September 11, 2001 ? if you accept that) then this group would continue in a manner similar to that employed by the Palestine against the murderous occupiers of the Jewish state. Thus these resistors would already be here and use local resources to engage in multiple resistance campaigns. How would it help their cause to do nothing for such long periodic of time, nine years now? How may times have the Palestinians engaged in acts of internationally legal acts of resistance since 2001? To numerous to mention. Further why would this resistance group use airports and risk detection? Why would they not employ methods used by drug smugglers entering the U.S.? These drug smugglers are sophisticated at it and successful for the majority of the time. Heck even the poor Mexican has been very good at it with little planning, group effort and low technology employed. There any many points of entry to any nation outside of an airport. Ask yourself if your were looking to enter the U.S. in an clandestine manner would you use an airport or some insignificant obscure point of entry? From which would you most likely archive your objective of entry without detection (in the pre airport scanner world)? Therefore if you would choose the obscure point of entry so would others and therefore what is the point of this security technology at airports if is ineffective at preventing acts of organized residence in a country? Again chi bono?

    It has been proven throughout history, sacrificing your freedom for security leads to tyranny. This is a fact known before the 1700?s and is just as relevant today!
  • RE: EPIC testifies before Homeland Security Hearing advising it suspend body scanner use at airports

    Can someone please tell me what freedoms are lost by going through a body scan? Seriously, how does your life change?

    Certainly, I would agree that the scanner should not be able to save or transmit images. We have conflicting accounts as to whether they can do this. This should be resolved.

    But this is hardly a case of freedom vs tyranny. It's a matter of NOT being blown to bits at 20,000 feet by some religious extremist with a chip on his shoulder.
  • Na?vet? is the Grease of the Tyrant

    Simple income tax was first introduced in the U.S. in 1861 to raise funds for war. It was meant to be limited in time, reach and scope. That is it was a flat tax on annual income above $800 at a rate of 3%. Where are we now today?!

    Like all things crated by man, they can become a tool which can be used to better our lives to some degree or in the hands of the wrong person or group can be used hinder, hurt enslave or destroy. That is why we have a constitution, government by the people (in theory now only) laws and rules of conduct. Would you leave it up to the police to determine with a gun and teaser the rules of engagement with you the unarmed civilian?

    Thus before we utilize a technology with is used to control our behaviour and freedom of movement, an inalienable God given right then should find just cause (which my point was we have not), ask questions and debate before we act or we will ends up with similar issues that we currently have with income tax and debt.

    "A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever." John Adams(July 7, 1775)
  • RE: EPIC testifies before Homeland Security Hearing advising it suspend body scanner use at airports

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