NPR logo Website Publishes 100 Pictures Of Federal Security Body Scans

Website Publishes 100 Pictures Of Federal Security Body Scans

A screenshot of one of the images obtained by Gizmodo. hide caption

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The website Gizmodo has published 100 pictures of body scans taken at an Orlando Federal Courthouse. The scans are not from the "naked scan" machines that the Department of Homeland Security announced were going into 28 airports in the country, earlier this year. Instead, they are much more pixelated and less embarrassing.

Still Gizmodo points to TSA's Advanced Imaging Technology's privacy policy, which states that the machines "cannot store, print, transmit or save the" images and that they are "automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer."

Gizmodo attained the images by filing a Freedom of Information Act request. The images were among the 35,000 that U.S. Marshals at the Orlando courthouse admitted to saving.

Gizmodo, which blurred the faces in the photographs, explains their reasoning for publishing them:

The leaking of these photographs demonstrates the security limitations of not just this particular machine, but millimeter wave and x-ray backscatter body scanners operated by federal employees in our courthouses and by TSA officers in airports across the country. That we can see these images today almost guarantees that others will be seeing similar images in the future. If you're lucky, it might even be a picture of you or your family.

A poll released by CBS, yesterday, asked Americans if airports should use full-body x-rays. A whopping 81 percent of them said yes and it didn't matter their gender, age or political persuasion.

Earlier, today, Nate Silver of the New York Times' Five Thirty Eight analyzed how accurate those polls might be, considering that a wide range of them were conducted after terror threats and that most of them polled Americans who had never been through the machines. He found the numbers are pretty accurate:

My guess is that a majority of such passengers will still approve of them: Americans are willing to tolerate a great number of things at the airport that they would never stand for in other parts of their lives.

How about you? Where do you stand on the debate after seeing the published pictures?