Thursday, December 9, 2010

Full Body Scans... For Your Car? Coming Soon to a Street Near You!

Most of you heard the recent media stir over the TSA's new security measures, which include full-body x-rays which create naked images of people's bodies.  If you liked that, you will love what is quietly finding its way onto America's roads: x-Ray scanners which can look inside your car.  The new 'Z-Backscatter Vans', as their manufacturer calls them, are capable of looking through vehicle walls and outlining the cargo and passengers.  The technology is also capable of peering through people's clothing and through the walls of some buildings.

This technology is fairly mature already, having been used in Afghanistan and Iraq to search for bombs for several years now.  In fact, your car may have already been scanned by one of these devices without your ever being made aware of it.  The manufacturer claims to have sold "more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents."  The scanners are already in use by the Homeland Security Department, U.S Customs and Border Protection, and the State Department, and could be used by local law enforcement for any purpose as well.  The new technology is largely unregulated, and there are few if any restrictions on how or where it is used, and no requirement that people be informed that they are being exposed to x-rays from the scans.

Not only can vehicles be imaged, but the same type of technology used in airport scanners is being modified to permit scanning of human bodies on the streets.  A dutch paper reported that the technology has the potential to conduct "mass scans on crowds at events such as football matches”, and that it is now mature and “The biggest challenge is making it portable and ensuring it can carry out a scan in seconds.”

We wonder if they will also start giving cars 'enhanced patdowns' and telling us we 'consented' to being scanned and searched when we got our drivers licenses?  But don't worry, you should at least be able to 'opt out' by lining your basement with lead and never leaving it.