March 26, 2010 4:54PM

Stunner: Strip‐​Search Machine Used to Ogle

An airport security staffer faces discipline after using a whole‐​body imaging machine to ogle a co‐​worker, according to this report. It’s another signal of what’s to come when the machines are in regular use. (In a previous post, I aired my doubts about the veracity of reports that a famous Indian movie star had been exposed, but the story foretells the future all the same.)

I’ve written before that whole‐​body imaging machines in airports create risks to privacy despite TSA’s efforts to minimize those risks with carefully designed rules and practices.

Rules, of course, were made to be broken, and it’s only a matter of time — federal law or not — before TSA agents without proper supervision find a way to capture images contrary to policy. (Agent in secure area guides Hollywood starlet to strip search machine, sends SMS message to image reviewer, who takes camera‐​phone snap. TMZ devotes a week to the story, and the ensuing investigation reveals that this has been happening at airports throughout the country to hundreds of women travelers.)

Rules against misuse of whole‐​body imaging are fine, but they are not a long‐​term, effective protection against abuse of “strip‐​search machines.”