The Spy Blog makes the point that this kind of technology is appropriate for checking out freight, but not people. However this does remind me that the airline industry slang term for human passengers is 'self-moving freight'...(SMF). Wonder if that kind of language has de-sensitised some peoples judgement...
Now, if you’re reading an article about X-ray scanning technology for use in airports which shows people ‘naked’ and it quotes someone as saying:
The images are not erotic or pornographic and they cannot be stored or captured in any way.
do you think the story will be:
(a) Accompanied by no images from the scanning because, after all, they “cannot be stored or captured in any way”, or
(b) Accompanied by images from the scanning?
I suspect you guessed correct. It was indeed a case of (b) in the Daily Mail report which, although generally giving a strong airing to privacy concerns over these machines, let this claim pass without comment.
It’s easy to see what the quoted person meant: the scanner itself can’t store or capture images. But in its narrow focus on how one piece of technology is meant to work, the quote misses the situation in which the technology is used. Stick a member of staff in front of the scanner with a mobile phone that comes with a camera and bingo, you have quick and easy uploading to the internet of any image. Not so much a case of no images being stored, but all images can be distributed round the internet.
Real security comes from understanding the context in which technology is placed and how it can be used or misused. In this case, by focusing in on just the one possible way of storing an image (using the scanner itself), far from reassuring me the quote left me more concerned as it suggests the full range of security problems haven’t been thought through. Because if they were, you would know that quote isn’t really what the issue is about.
Hat-tip for contrast between quote and images: Spy Blog