Contrary to public statements made by the Transportation Security Administration, full-body airport scanners do have the ability to store and transmit images, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
The documents, which include technical specifications and vendor contracts, indicate that the TSA requires vendors to provide equipment that can store and send images of screened passengers when in testing mode, according to CNN.
The TSA has stated publicly on its website, in videos and in statements to the press that images cannot be stored on the machines and that images are deleted from the scanners once an airport operator has examined them. The administration has also insisted that the machines are incapable of sending images.
But a TSA official acknowledged to CNN that the machines do have these capabilities when set to “test mode.”
The official said these functions are disabled before the machines are delivered to airports and that there is no way for screeners in airports to put the machines into test mode to enable the functions. The official, however, would not elaborate on what specific protections, if any, are in place to prevent airport personnel from putting the machines in test mode.
The TSA also asserts that the machines are not networked, so they cannot be accessed by hackers.