Monday, January 17, 2011

EPIC vs DHS: Judge blocks release of test images

EPIC's Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) for the TSA to provide the 2000 images of volunteers that it collected while testing the scanners has been denied. TSA claims that this would be a security risk, and the judge agreed. I think the real reason that TSA won't release them is 2-fold:
  1. Power. As with any bureaucracy, turf protection is most important. Releasing the images is giving up control, and no bureaucrat willingly relinquishes their power.
  2. PR. We know these images are offensive. The more that are available, the less likely that the American public will continue to submit. Incidentally, in the TechDirt comments, someone questions whether an electronic privacy advocacy group should seek these images, but more of these images need to be leaked to undermine the remaining support that the scanners have. (If you question whether the images are offensive, I have a challenge for you. Display one of these images in public. I own this shirt and I do wear it around as part of my campaign to shed light on this. I honestly feel embarrassed when I do so because it is so graphic.)
 TSA was forced to hand over some other information, including specs and contracts for the scanners (x-ray backscatter and millimeter wave).