Two Democratic senators on Tuesday proposed legislation that would make it a federal crime to misuse images recorded from full-body scanners used at airport security checkpoints.
The measure, proposed by Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Charles E. Schumer of New York, would bar any person with access to the scanned body images — whether Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) personnel or the pubic — from photographing or disseminating those images. Violators would face up one year in prison and a fine up to $100,000 per violation.
Federal agencies like the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration already have laws that ban their employees from disseminating private information to anyone not entitled to receive it. But no such statute exists for TSA body-scanning images.
“This law sends a loud and clear message to the flying public, not only will we do everything we can to protect your safety, we will also do everything we can to protect your privacy,” said Schumer. “As we put in place new technologies to detect and capture those who wish to do us harm, we need to do everything we can to protect the privacy rights of the air travelers.”
The body scan amendment is part of a larger aviation bill that calls for upgrading the nation’s decades-old air traffic control navigation system. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.