Friday, February 18, 2011

Body scanner abuse

Misusing body scanner images would become a federal crime punishable by up to a year in prison under a proposal approved Tuesday by the Senate, an attempt by lawmakers to address concerns raised by some travelers.

The amendment by Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to an aviation bill pending in the Senate was approved 98-0. It would prohibit anyone with access to the scanned body images, whether security personnel or members of the public, from photographing or disseminating those images. Besides a prison term, violators could be fined up to $100,000 per violation.

The proposal would apply to images made by body scanners run by any federal employee, including security employees at airports and federal courthouses. It covers not only the misuse of the original images recorded by scanners, but also photographs of scans recorded and disseminated from personal cameras, cell phones and video devices.

In all the hubbub about the potential for misuse of airport body scanner images, no one ever comes forward with evidence of any actual misuse of body scanner images.

It would be nice if senators would calm ungrounded public fears, rather then stir the pot and pass legislation to address a nonexistent problem.

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