Senators want to know why U.S. Marshals Service is keeping body scan images

They're images of people who entered a U.S. Courthouse in Orlando, Fl. Earlier this month, reports of the 35,000 images the U.S. Marshals Service stored sparked discussion about privacy. 

Now, the leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee want to know why these images were stored and whether there are other places body scan images might be stored. They sent a letter late last week asking for answers.  They also urged the service to use automatic target recognition technology - that would let a machine check out the images, not a person.

In a statement, the U.S. Marshals Service said the machine automatically stores images to the hard drive and you have to have an administrative password to see them and by the way, no one looked.  Also, "The millimeter wave scan images captured by the Brijot machine in Orlando can in no way be described as images of ‘naked' or ‘undressed' people.  Rather, they are pixilated, chalky and blurred images."

ARLINGTON, VA - DECEMBER 30: Images produced by a ‘millimeter wave' scanner are displayed during a demonstration at the Transportation Security Administration's Systems Integration Facility at Ronald Reagan National Airport December 30, 2009 in Arlington, Virginia. ‘Millimeter wave' passes electromagnetic waves over the body to create three-dimensional images that look like a photo negative. The scan can detect hidden metallic and nonmetallic objects such as weapons and explosives without physical contact. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

About the author

Larissa Anderson is a producer for the Marketplace Tech Report and she also produces Minnesota Public Radio’s Wits.

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