Tester pushes Senate to criminalize misuse of airport body scans

Senator’s bill bolsters privacy rights by protecting TSA images

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today renewed his push to criminalize any misuse of airport body scan images by Transportation Security Administration employees.

The Senate is currently debating legislation to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration and is expected to consider a plan this week to address TSA body scan procedures. The TSA has faced criticism over concern that new high-tech scanners produce revealing body images.  

While TSA rules forbid security screeners from saving or identifying the images, such rules are not yet federal law.

Tester is calling on his colleagues to support a plan to make it a federal crime to permanently photograph, record or distribute any image produced using a full-body scanner.  

Tester introduced legislation in December to criminalize the misuse of body scan images.

“Montanans have got to be safe when they board an airplane—but they shouldn’t have to forfeit their freedoms to do so,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.  “Congress has got an opportunity here to use some common sense to protect both the security and the privacy rights of Americans when they travel.  We can find a good balance that works—and we should.”

Employees of federal agencies like the IRS and the Social Security Administration are already prohibited by law from distributing citizens’ private information.  Tester’s measure would similarly ban the distribution of body-scan images taken in airports or any other federal buildings.

Federal employees who illegally record or distribute body-scan images would face up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine under Tester’s legislation.

Tester, an outspoken advocate for Americans’ privacy rights, has posted the Security Screening Privacy Act on his website, HERE.