WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), introduced an Amendment to H.R. 2200, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Authorization Act. This amendment will address privacy concerns raised by Whole-Body Imaging (WBI) machines. It passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 310 to 118.
“Travelers should not be subjected to invasive searches when other options are available and effective,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “This amendment will help protect travelers from the over-the-top body imaging machines that the TSA is now trying to use as their primary screening devices. I am pleased to be working with Congressman Chaffetz on this important issue and will work to ensure common-sense measures are put into place that will enhance our security while respecting our privacy.”
“Whole-body imaging is exactly what it says; it allows TSA employees to conduct the equivalent of a strip search. Nobody needs to see my wife and kids naked to secure an airplane,” said Congressman Chaffetz. “This amendment will balance the dual virtues of safety and privacy and ensure that we do not have to give up one in order to have the other.”
WBI machines enable the TSA to see through passengers’ clothing in full detail, and are the equivalent of a physically invasive strip-search. The TSA has gone back on the initial understanding to only use the machines as secondary screening devices, and it has been reported that the current plan is for all passengers to go through WBI machines instead of the walk through metal detectors.
Specifically, the amendment:
prohibits the TSA from using WBI machines for primary screening;
requires the TSA to give passengers the option of a pat-down search in place of going through a WBI machine;
requires the TSA to give passengers information on the images generated by the WBI, the privacy policies in place, and the right to request a pat-down search
prohibits the TSA from storing, transferring, or copying the images