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Broken Promises? Body Scanner Stores 35,000 Pics, 100 Hit the Web

"That we can see these images today almost guarantees that others will be seeing similar images in the future."

A scanner image obtained by the website Gizmodo, taken by a millimeter body scanner. (Photo: Gizmodo)

Remember the TSA's promise that their advanced body scanners "cannot store, print, transmit or save the image, and the image is automatically deleted from the system"? That assertion is now being challenged after it has been revealed that a millimeter wave scanner did in fact store 35,000 images, 100 of which have now turned up on the internet.

An investigation by the website Gizmodo, following up on an admission by U.S. Marshals in Florida, reveals that at least one body scanner machine stored images that were later easily obtained using a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

It's unclear if the images were stored intentionally or accidentally.

"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," Gizmodo's article says. "That we can see these images today almost guarantees that others will be seeing similar images in the future."

To be sure, the millimeter wave scanners are much less revealing than the x-ray scanners that have sparked the recent controversy. But the lack of detail offered by the millimeter scanner doesn't erase the privacy concerns. And the TSA's website includes the millimeter scanner in its promise that such machines "cannot" store pictures:

According to Gizmodo, sample pictures were removed from the scanner to honor the FOIA request and the machine was sent back to the manufacturer -- with all the images still on it.

See all the photos here.

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