Are Full Body Scan Images Saved? Issue Challenged In Federal Court

WGRZ Buffalo

As the TSA prepares to install five full-body scanners at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, the machines are being challenged in a federal appeals court.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a civil rights advocacy group headquartered in Washington, D.C., has three pending lawsuits against the federal government. EPIC claims the full-body scanning devices have the ability to save the images, which have been compared to a virtual strip search.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has repeatedly said the ability to save the images is disabled once the scanners are out of “Test Mode.”

However, through an investigation prompted by the lawsuits, EPIC found tens of thousands of images saved on a less-invasive full-body scanner used at a security checkpoint inside a Florida courthouse. That scanner is operated by the U.S. Marshals Service.

2 On Your Side spoke with an attorney representing EPIC in its lawsuits against the government, who said the public should not trust the TSA.

“Up until this point, they were denying the capability,” Ginger McCall, E.P.I.C. general counsel, said. “Now they’re saying, ‘oh well they have the capability, but we’re not going to activate it.’ Again, they’ve so consistently misled the public about these devices.”

When asked if she believed the images would be saved on airport screening machines, McCall said, “Absolutely.”

Meantime, the TSA released a statement saying, “All functionality to store, export or print images is disabled before these machines are delivered to airport checkpoints.”

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