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Full-Body Scanners Deployed In Street-Roving Vans

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the this-slope-sure-feels-slippery dept.

Privacy 312

pickens writes "Forbes reports that the same technology used at airport check points, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on US streets where law enforcement agencies have deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs. 'It's no surprise that governments and vendors are very enthusiastic about [the vans],' says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. 'But from a privacy perspective, it's one of the most intrusive technologies conceivable.' Rotenberg adds that the scans, like those in the airport, potentially violate the fourth amendment. 'Without a warrant, the government doesn't have a right to peer beneath your clothes without probable cause,' Rotenberg says. 'If the scans can only be used in exceptional cases in airports, the idea that they can be used routinely on city streets is a very hard argument to make.'"

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If it violates an amendment (4, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404302)

I wonder what they will change. The amendment or make the use of these illegal.

Re:If it violates an amendment (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404352)

Neither. The government these days can either selectively decide which parts of the constitution to follow, the courts can selectively decide how to "interpret" it and congress simply ignores the constitution. How many congressmen (excluding Ron Paul) really make an effort to decide whether something is constitutional or not? The PATRIOT act was blatantly unconstitutional yet it passed with little opposition, many, many other laws have been passed that were blatantly unconstitutional that the issue of the constitution wasn't even raised.

Re:If it violates an amendment (2, Insightful)

herojig (1625143) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404534)

A little more then "a little opposition", so best to educate yourself: http://educate-yourself.org/cn/patriotact20012006senatevote.shtml [educate-yourself.org] The point being that throwing hands in the air and proclaiming all is lost (unless Ron Paul is President) is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and just what the overlords want to see happen.

Re:If it violates an amendment (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404572)

Ok, so let me get this right...

These are the 98 U.S. senators for voted in favor of the US Patirot Act of 2001 (Senator Landrieu (D-LA) did not vote) Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin was the only senator who voted against the Patriot Act on October 24, of 2001.

Out of all the members, only 2 people didn't vote in favor of it. Yeah, sounds like a lot of opposition...

Yes, there were a few members of congress who voted against it, but if you really look at it, they simply wanted to opposed just about everything Bush was in favor of. They didn't make a conscious decision against it based on a constitutional point that they evaluate all their bills with, they saw that it was one of Bush's main points and voted against it.

And I don't proclaim that "all hope is lost" I continue to vote but in most cases with the exception of local elections the people who I vote for don't win because the vast majority of America is so entwined in the two party system that they completely miss the point and instead vote for parties that are two sides of the same coin and only disagree on insignificant issues.

Re:If it violates an amendment (1, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404654)

Not to mention if a maniac like Ron Paul became president, there would be much worse things to worry about than X ray machines in cars.

Re:If it violates an amendment (3, Insightful)

canadian_right (410687) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404800)

Like what? Ron Paul wants a minimal government so the "worse things" would mainly be a complete lack of a government "safety net", ie welfare state, as opposed to actively doing bad stuff.

Moderation is often the best policy. Pure socialism or pure capitalism are both bad ideas.

Re:If it violates an amendment (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404900)

If history is any guide, most people on the outside rail against the "system." They promise to bring change, to root out corruption, to make government smaller, etc. etc. Once they get in, all of a sudden they think that certain subsidies are all right, that some compromises need to be made, etc. etc. Funny how those exceptions happen to benefit themselves or they campaign contributors.

Re:If it violates an amendment (0, Flamebait)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404958)

"Like what?"

States hiring private companies to use spy vans? Cause government surely can't interfere with States. And after all, market will sort out anything.

Re:If it violates an amendment (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404956)

Honestly like every other president, Ron Paul would probably only get a quarter of what he promises done if he became president, we would either be up shit creek or doing pretty well depending upon what area he succeeds in. Also on top of that, most of the bills would never clear congress. If you honestly didn't like McCain and you don't like Obama you SHOULD have voted for Ron Paul. At least he would have vetoed bills that would curtail constitutional rights, and he likely wouldn't have been able to change much as president, which is fine by me.

Re:If it violates an amendment (0, Offtopic)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404690)

It's times like this that I wish Slashdot had a mod option named 'Strident'.

Re:If it violates an amendment (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404972)

Yeah, they would just hand you a NSL letter, tell you to fill in your name and address in the blank spot, then send you through the scanner.

All nice and legal. And you can't even tell anybody about it.

Well... the moved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404354)

so fast to stop warrant-less wiretapping we can rest assured that they will nip this in the bud *REAL* quick. They care about our rights after all.

Re:If it violates an amendment (3, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404362)

No, just construct a specious argument that the Constitution/Amendment doesn't apply to this case. And ensure over time that the group of gentlefolk who get to strike down unconstitutional laws agree suspiciously often with you.

That's how the US government's got away with it to now.

Re:If it violates an amendment (2, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404486)

This falls under their powers to regulate Interstate Commerce, just like everything.

You might have something hidden on your person with the intent to cross state lines and then sell it. Obviously they have to scan you, me, and everyone. Kids too. Especially little boys.

Re:If it violates an amendment (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404460)

"If" it violates an amendment?

In my uninformed (IANAL, etc.) opinion, this looks quite similar to--and if anything more egregious than--the circumstances in Kyllo v. United States [wikipedia.org] , in which use of thermal imaging to look inside a private home was ruled unconstitutional without a warrant.

Re:If it violates an amendment (4, Informative)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404462)

I wonder what they will change. The amendment or make the use of these illegal.

I'm reasonably sure this is already prohibited by the 4th Amendment, as interpreted by SCOTUS. In Kyllo v. U.S. http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=15840045591115721227&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr [google.com] , the Court held: "obtaining by senseenhancing technology any information regarding the interior of the home that could not otherwise have been obtained without physical "intrusion into a constitutionally protected area," constitutes a search-- at least where (as here) the technology in question is not in general public use." (A discussion of how the protection of a car differs from a house, legally, is beyond the scope of this post ;) but suffice to say there are at least some areas of the car and the person that are constitutionally protected...)

Re:If it violates an amendment (2, Insightful)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404612)

You're correct that a precedent has been set. The evidence can't be used in court and information gathered in such a manner can not be used as probably cause by itself. An anonymous tip about a car bomb in the area would be sufficient cause to do this non-invasive search and act upon whatever they find. Regardless, this ruling does not inhibit their ability to look for car bombs from a safety standpoint - they just have legal complications if they want to prosecute.

Also note that the intended purpose isn't for random searches in your neighborhood. The main deployments will be at the borders, ports, or other high-security areas where consent to be search is already implied. This is a great technology to employ at the borders to help stifle the influx of drugs and illegals. The technology is also quickly evolving to the point that we could have walk-through corridors at the airports like you see in the movie Total Recall.

Re:If it violates an amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404722)

Who says they are gonna use it in "court". ZBV van scans your house and determines there is contraband there - black suited thugs with no insignia storm in the next night and take you away to "the village" be seeing you - not.

Re:If it violates an amendment (4, Insightful)

sjwaste (780063) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404738)

Not to mention, Kyllo probably does not apply at border checkpoints. From the perspective of your constitutional rights, as my crim law prof always hammered home, border checkpoints are different.

I have absolutely no problem with using this technology at our borders, scanning cars parked on the departures curb at the airport, etc. I wouldn't want it roving through my neighborhood, though, and it probably won't because good luck prosecuting anything uncovered by this under normal circumstances (i.e. where Kyllo applies).

Re:If it violates an amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404962)

If you check the comments on Schneier's blog (in his reference to that article), one person claimed they are scanning the people who cross, not the cars (in at least some cases).
That's effectively a strip search (though not a cavity search) with pictures kept for posterity.

Re:If it violates an amendment (1)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404968)

I wonder what they will change. The amendment or make the use of these illegal.

I'm reasonably sure this is already prohibited by the 4th Amendment, as interpreted by SCOTUS.

They won't change the amendment, they'll just ignore it, and SCOTUS will continue to water down these protections as they have been doing for the last 10 years.

Although I'm not a conservative, I wish that they really stood for limited government (the military, police power, etc.) like they proclaim, and not just for limiting the parts that they don't like (Social Security, Medicaid, etc.). I'd respect them a whole lot more if they did.

Re:If it violates an amendment (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404530)

Neither. If no one is allowed to wear clothes, then there is no "peeking under clothes" law being broken. Look for a "Only terrorists wear clothing" slogan on a billboard near you.

Re:If it violates an amendment (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404818)

Now that's one "war on terror" fear inspired law that I could get behind 100%. Although I would offer an amendment that only females under 35 and weighing under 150 pounds would be forced to comply. All other compliance would be voluntary to show that you weren't hiding anything. I would also be in favor of selective enforcement by the mostly male police force. I think they could figure out for themselves who the most "egregious offenders" were. Any pretty girl who is clothed is an abomination. It has to stop.

Re:If it violates an amendment (2, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404948)

only females under 35 and weighing under 150 pounds

At least someone's thinking of the (female) children!

For everyone else, there's NAMBLA Card.

I have no idea why I just typed that.

I'm sorry.

I'm going to post this anyway just as an experiment to see how I get modded.

Also, this is, "If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide!" taken to its inevitable conclusion.

So I agree with you, except that it should compulsion should only apply to the families of those who support such government "protection".

Because who wins out when the only way to protect yourself from terrorist bogeymen is to have hordes of paedophile bogeymen looking at your family naked?

Another single sentence paragraph.

Well, sentence fragment!

Re:If it violates an amendment (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404984)

Neither. If no one is allowed to wear clothes, then there is no "peeking under clothes" law being broken. Look for a "Only terrorists wear clothing" slogan on a billboard near you.

I'd feel sorry for the people living in the northern states come winter.

Re:If it violates an amendment (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404664)

Neither. The use of these is already illegal

Re:If it violates an amendment (5, Insightful)

Ruud Althuizen (835426) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404870)

How many car bombs have we seen lately to justify these actions?

those must be bombs under that there shirt lady... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404304)

we have to check! it's for justice.

Re:those must be bombs under that there shirt lady (0, Offtopic)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404402)

Those must be bombs under that there shirt lady...

Oh, they're "the bomb" alright! The real thing, baby!

No conspiracy here, move along (2, Funny)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404314)

Don't listen to conspiracy nuts, all these things that have been talked about 20 years ago and have come to pass are just coincidences!! I swear!

not only that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404326)

not only that, the its using backscatter x-ray technology, meaning those people worried about cellphones causing cancer have nothing to worry about, this is potentialy dangerous, and theres plenty of things that dont play well with x-ray radiation, its a disaster waiting to happen

Re:not only that (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404672)

I know this discussion has taken place here numerous times, but please...substantiate your claim. What real concrete evidence do you have to support that?

Re:not only that (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404950)

It uses ionizing radiation, which is known to cause DNA damage, in constrast to cell phones, wifi, etc?

Ok, honestly? (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404330)

Ok, how many "violations" have these scanners found that could be linked to something serious. No, some guy who carries a pocketknife daily who forgot to take it out at the airport is not a real threat.

There are three reasons why we haven't had any "terrorist attacks" since 9/11

A) Terrorists are stupid. Its not easy to carry out an attack.

B) People are smarter. Pre-9/11 if your plane got hijacked you simply complied with the hijackers, landed in Cuba, and were on a flight back home later in the day. Today, if someone would try doing that, they would be stopped by the passengers. And unless there was a plane full of terrorists, the number of average passengers are much, much, much higher.

C) Terrorists are rare. There aren't billions of terrorists everywhere, yes, there are a few, but the number of normal people outnumber them by far which makes stopping them very easy.

9/11 was a one shot deal and only was successfully carried out because prior to that the standard operating procedure for dealing with a hijacker as a passenger was to let them do whatever they want and try to survive because they weren't crashing the hijacked planes in buildings.

Re:Ok, honestly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404436)

The Real Question is...how many people have they caught trying to commit terrorism that way?

I suspect the numbers are far fewer than the people whose lives have been negatively impacted by the damn asses employed by Homeland Security.

Including the women felt up by those guards. No real belief in a threat, but hey, time to cop a feel...right?

Re:Ok, honestly? (1)

Putr (1669238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404472)

I agree with B and C but...

A: ... Do you know how easy it is to make a bomb? Google it if you dont belive me. Or just buyin a gun in america and going to a stadion and start shooting...

There were no more terrorists atacks because the funders behind them aren not interested in them atm. Who these people are, is a whole other disscusion.

Re:Ok, honestly? (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404540)

Ok, its easy to make a bomb, easy to detonate unseen? Conceal it? Make it cause some damage?

Sure, its easy to purchase a gun, but to shoot it with accuracy? To stop a mob of people from taking you down? If people could conceal carry anywhere that would add in another dimension to it

The fact that some things -are- possible doesn't mean that they are likely, or even possible.

For every "successful" bombings, there have been thousands of failed ones.

The only "successful" attacks have happened because of three conditions:

A) A smart perpetrator

B) Unarmed people unable to defend themselves

C) Everything working perfectly according to plans, which is rare.

Its easy to make french fries, but to make french fries that taste indistinguishable from your favourite restaurant is a lot harder.

Re:Ok, honestly? (1)

Putr (1669238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404634)

Say i was one of these terrorists everybody is so worried about.

All you need is a Van(or a car, van is better), a Fertilizer bomb (easy to manufacture) you could add bags of nails around the bomb to encrease fragmentation and a nice, public place with a lot of people.

Detonate from afar, or preferably use a suacide bomber that will drive in the middle of the crowd and detonate.

Places: Parade, speaches, concerts etc

And presto, few hundred dead. Remember, terrorists do not care about consicuances or are happy to face them in order to achive their goals.

DISCLAMER: I am NOT or have i ever been a terrorist or a criminal. I have never planed or intended to plan a terrorist act.

If one whanted to kill people there is nothing stoping him/her.

Re:Ok, honestly? (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404660)

You mean like the "Times Square Bomber" which um, failed to detonate?

It sounds easy on paper but history tells something radically different.

Re:Ok, honestly? (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404670)

Say i was one of these terrorists everybody is so worried about.

All you need is a Van(or a car, van is better), a Fertilizer bomb (easy to manufacture) you could add bags of nails around the bomb to encrease fragmentation and a nice, public place with a lot of people.

...

If one whanted to kill people there is nothing stoping him/her.

Ah, so what you are saying is this technology wont do anything to stop scenarios like yours? Then why do you seem to be arguing for it's need?

Re:Ok, honestly? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404712)

> Sure, its easy to purchase a gun, but to shoot it with accuracy? To stop a mob of people from taking you down?

I think I could easily permanently blind dozens (or more) of people with a high powered handheld laser, and I can do this from a fair distance (100+ metres). I think there are many cases where you have hundreds or thousands of people looking at the same spot...

You can buy these lasers online. They make no noise and are easily concealed. By the time people see the beam, it's too late. Most people would have to look at you to successfully gun you down. And if they look at you, you might be able to blind them first (for closer range stuff you could carry a gun too, or have the laser divergence adjustable).

While it's not the same as shooting dozens of people, I suspect many people would rather be shot in the arm/leg and even lose a limb than be permanently blinded, assuming they survive either scenario.

Doubt these vans will help much in this scenario.

Re:Ok, honestly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404776)

There were no more terrorists atacks because the funders behind them aren not interested in them atm.

What happened the last time a terrorist attack happened on US soil? For the act of running a couple planes into a couple of well known buildings TWO entire countries were crushed into the ground in every way you can imagine. The second one barely having anything, if anything, to do with the incident.

I'd say such funders were probably surprised by the scale of the retaliation although they really should have expected it from the only country to use nuclear weapons on another country.

Re:Ok, honestly? (2)

sjwaste (780063) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404778)

My wife brought this up on our ride home yesterday, when we saw two officers get on our metro car. Basically said, we're not protected at all against people dressing up like cops and bringing a gun onto the metro.

My simplest explanation is this: We focus our resources on stopping groups from planning attacks. We basically have to write off the risk of a crazy loner acting alone. You're right, it is easy to buy a gun, bring it into a stadium/subway car/whatever, and start shooting. If someone wants to do that, there is very little to stop them. Our security counts on the idea that someone looking to do that is going to tell or tip someone in some way, or is already a strange enough character that friends/family have reported his/her behavior, or that if they're really serious they'll try to bring someone else in. Once communication starts, detection becomes much more likely. Someone would truly have to act alone. Otherwise, yes, it seems pretty easy.

Now outside of a few isolated incidents, how many terrorist attacks of this nature occur? Very few. It's mostly a group, or at least a few loosely organized individuals. So with the limited resources available for counter-terror, we probably need to cross our fingers and discount the former, focusing on the latter.

You definitely can't stop a true loner acting alone - especially one that does not fear for his own life.

Re:Ok, honestly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404882)

I'm not going to google it for fear of being labeled a terrorist because of these ridiculous laws.

Re:Ok, honestly? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404888)

The people who carry out the attacks are pretty stupid, the people giving the orders and making the plans are not.

Re:Ok, honestly? (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404494)

A) Terrorists are stupid. ... B) People are smarter.

You're so lucky to be surrounded by good people. But still, I can't help feeling you're blind to reality in the world. In particular, some things are nagging at my mind.

A) "motivated / months of planning", "you haven't seen the really good ones"

B) "self-centered", "not wanting to risk myself / let other people take the risk"

But I'm not smart like you, so what can I say?

Re:Ok, honestly? (0, Troll)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404504)

I don't like the tone of my voice. Please mod me down.

Re:Ok, honestly? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404544)

You are missing:

D) There is no need for a real incident. The first worked beyond Bin Laden's wildest dreams. All it needs to keep Americans locked up is the occassional shoe or underpants 'bomber'. The US politicians will then do all that is necessary to destroy America.

Re:Ok, honestly? (3, Insightful)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404698)

For once an AC that makes an insightful comment and me without mod points.

The terrorists have continued to win since 9/11 because they continue to successfully insight terror.

And every time you hear a call to accept this search or give up that privacy because if we don't then the terrorists win...don't bother, they just did.

Re:Ok, honestly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404824)

Ok, how many "violations" have these scanners found that could be linked to something serious.

Exactly! This is why we absolutely need to deploy even more pervasive technology!

We must not stop before we have a vast array of nuclear-powered X-ray satellites in orbit,
constantly scanning for threats, the BIG UGLY threats, the WMD kind of threats.

Spouting a lot of bull (2, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404952)

There have been THOUSANDS of terrorists attacks since 9/11, try Iraq and Afghanistan. What about Madrid and London? Those don't count? Because they don't strike were YOU claim they should strike? Here is a hint: THAT is how terrorism works. Strike ANYWHERE with the implied threat that it could happen ANYWHERE.

There have also been attempts on US targets, FOUR at least. (Shoe-bomber, nigerian via dutch airline, car on times-sqaure, fort hood shooting) 1 out of 4 succeeded. Stupid attemps? No, just unlucky ones. 9/11 got lucky, very lucky. 3 planes hit their target, one didn't. That is NOT exactly a high success rate but it was high enough. But can you bank on that? Never had a fire in my adult life != do not need the fire department.

People are smarter? Doubt it if you are the example. Not exactly blessed with logical thinking skills are you? You go on how about 9/11 could only happen because the terrorists did something DIFFERENT and then completly assume a next attempt will be foiled because we know what to do now... so the terrorist are not capable of changing the rules YET again? Who says the NEXT 9/11 will be the same? Madrid, London and the fort hood shooting were not. Why touch the airport at all? I can think up of thousands of different attacks especially if the attacker doesn't value his own life. No doubt so can the terrorists.

They are rare? Yes... getting rarer all the time with the thousands of suicide attacks. Odd that they don't seem to be running out at all. Could it be that with a population in the billions, any fraction of a percentage still gets you tons of people? And yet all these billions of people who are not terrorists did NOT stop 9/11 or London or Madrid or Fort Hood or the countless attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan or the attack in Mumbai and god knows how many more.

There is a very real risk that in the fear of terrorists we do exactly what the terrorists want, which is to life in terror.

But sticking our head in the sand like you do is NOT the answer either. You are a silly person who has banked his entire idea that there is another group of a dozen muslim men waiting with box-cutters to fly aircraft into buildings and that you, you who cower already on a forum at the thought of a terrorists, will fight them off with the old lady next to you.

The people in the fourth plane tried that. Why don't you ask them for tips... oh wait, they ALL died didn't they? So much for your brilliant plan to foil the evil terrorists. Maybe we should leave it to someone smarter. Shouldn't be hard, by my estimate there about 6 billion smarter people on this planet then some guy who thinks terrorists have to strike in the same place twice in the same way.

Critically important (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404340)

Law enforcement considers the beach based vans critically important to beach safety.

Since over 95% of the population approves (4, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404348)

Who am I to argue? To all of you fools who believe it can't get any worse, I can only say, step outside the door. You haven't seen shit.

Re:Since over 95% of the population approves (1)

fey000 (1374173) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404408)

Awesome, lets blame the increase of cancer on the terrorists too. That way you need the vans to scan for hidden terrorist cancer machines. (Jokes aside, what is the real danger of getting irradiated this way a few times?)

A bad idea... (5, Insightful)

Magee_MC (960495) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404360)

"The Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs, as the company calls them, bounce a narrow stream of x-rays off and through nearby objects, and read which ones come back."

A doctor needs informed consent to do an X-ray because of the risk from radiation. Why do these people think that they can irradiate people just because they want to? At least, as I understand it, at the airport you can decline to be irradiated and get searched the old fashioned way. With this you have no right to decline, or even knowledge that it happened.

Re:A bad idea... (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404410)

Because ZOMG teh terrorists are going to attack. There's no legitimate reason, and the back scatter technique is likely to be even worse than what's been acknowledged as while the dose is for the whole body, the concentration of it ends up just inside the skin. Meaning that while it might be an acceptable amount of total radiation, it's focus in an area where you're at a heightened risk of skin cancer.

Personally, I won't be flying again until some sanity has returned. Choosing between being assaulted with radiation or assaulted by TSA staff is not what I'd consider a reasonable function of government. In normal contexts that would be regarded as threat of violence and intimidation so that you allow them to take indecent liberties with your body. It isn't a question as to whether or not it's a violation of the 4th, it's a question of why we're even having to ask.

Re:A bad idea... (3, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404496)

Plus, really the airline lobbyists need to tell the DHS and the FAA to stop subjecting their customers to crap. Because its a vicious circle.

A) FAA/DHS pass some new stupid requirement

B) Less people fly because of A

C) Airlines, facing a loss of revenue try to cut costs in any way possible which makes even less people fly.

D) GOTO A

Airlines cannot be profitable when the government fucks with their customers. Before the airlines go broke/get nationalized they need to have their lobbyists put sanity back in flying.

Re:A bad idea... (2, Interesting)

future assassin (639396) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404884)

>Personally, I won't be flying again until some sanity has returned. Choosing between being assaulted with radiation or assaulted by TSA staff is not what I'd consider a reasonable function of government.

But isn't this what the gov wants? To have you stuck in the US and only fed their own views.

Re:A bad idea... (0, Flamebait)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404594)

Why do these people think that they can irradiate people just because they want to?

Quite simple really... It's because we let them. The ones that resist are a tiny minority, and doing so only raises the question of, "what are you trying to hide?" amongst the rest.

Re:A bad idea... (4, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404644)

Aren't there electronic devices that can detect X-rays?

Perhaps they could be countered by emitting an EM burst or EMP in the direction X-rays were detected in.

Re:A bad idea... (3, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404770)

With X-ray exposure, quantity is important. You don't need to be informed that you'll be exposed to X-rays when you fly in an airplane or turn on an incandescent bulb, but you are.

Hey, Mr. Glass-Half-Empty. . . (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404890)

A doctor needs informed consent to do an X-ray because of the risk from radiation. Why do these people think that they can irradiate people just because they want to?

The shorter your lifespan, the less likely you are to be the victim of a terrorist. You're welcome.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404370)

Ok so, the video say's it detects objects with "low atomic number mass, such as hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen".... I mean really what is even the point of stating something like that? How many objects don't have have hydrogen carbon and nitrogen in them? Oh and if law enforcement can do this, private citizens can too right?

Re:Really? (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404422)

Hydrogen, Carbon and Nitrogen are common components in high explosives. Unfortunately, they're also common components in many other things as well. But I suspect that the technology could have detected the car bomb used in the bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma city. That is if I'm understanding things correctly.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404512)

hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen, are common in allll organic matter, and anything made of organic matter, arent we having a stupid green movement EVERYTHINGS being made of organic matter...

Re:Really? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404750)

Right, but it can also detect the differences in densities, just like a regular xray. So a group of "students" walking down the street could be scanned and the one "student" with a "book" that looks completely different from the other books could be flagged. As could a car siting outside the [$Important Building] with a trunk full of oddly shaped things that aren't normal looking trunk things.

If you watched the video, they claim that being scanned by one of these things is the equivalent amount of xrays as flying on a plane for 15 minutes. These are less like the old fashioned lead apron xray machines and a lot more like the new digital detector ones where the operator doesn't need to run away in fear. I don't even think it penetrates the skin very much. We probably have more to fear from broken CRTs and broken street lamps [wikipedia.org] .

As for the legal analysis, I'm not sure whether this violates the 4th amendment. Certainly, if it isn't scanning people or their homes, it can't violate people's rights. And I'm not sure if it would even violate the constitution in it's original form, or as interpreted. It is really just enhancing what a normal person might be able to see if they looked close enough. You are in public: if the sun is really bright or the wind kicks up just right and I can see your poontang or the glint of your concealed firearm, I haven't violated your rights. Nor have I done so if I have a camera that doesn't block UV (or IR? I forget) and take your picture.

The difference is what I (or the State) does with it. Like the airport scanners: legal. Saving pictures of scans for no reason: not legal. Taking an IR picture of your tits and jerking off at home? Legal. Selling that? Probably not legal.

To me, the spirit of the 4th amendment is twofold: to check law enforcement from bothering people or their homes for no reason, and attempting to guarantee some level of protection for the same if they DO have a reason. That if the police (executive branch) wants to do something, then the judicial must sign off.

Re:Really? (3, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404552)

Hydrogen, Carbon and Nitrogen are common components in high explosives.

Likewise in people, plants, that sort of thing....

I guarantee you that... (2, Interesting)

KneelBeforeZod (1527235) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404444)

The presidential Secret Service will buy and use one of these. Wherever the president goes somewhere public, these scanners will be sweeping parking lots to pre-empt any possible dangers.

That's my prediction

I'm going to make.. (3, Funny)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404448)

I'm going to make x-ray resistant clothing and supply it free of charge to everyone in america.
Sure it might have a small side effect of being created with lead paint and turn your body into a microwave oven when they fire the xray in your direction. But just think of the look on the faces of the techs when they start to microwave innocent tax payers without their consent or knowledge and they drop dead. I might go as far to make pet clothing available but that has yet to be determined.

CopKiller (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404464)

HERF devices could easily fry these scanners while high powered laser pointers can destroy the CCDs in cameras. People need to fight back or get out of this shitty country (the FoxNews pigs aren't dying quickly enough).

Neat! (2, Funny)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404498)

Hah! With the right aerials, i can top up my hybrid's battery as it is parked on the street.

Re:Neat! (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404786)

Don't antennas generally need to be on roughly the same scale as the wavelength of the radiation they're interacting with? X-rays have nanometer-scale wavelengths.

Think of the children (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404500)

"Mommy, why does that van keep driving around our school?"

Really now, when it comes to opposing excuses for doing things of "terr'ists" and "think of the children" which one do you think will win out?

Maybe I should ask "What would Jesus do?"

Argument too difficult? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404558)

-- "I want it and if you're against this, you hate me... therefore you're evil."

Works well for Republicans -- and it's not that different for Democrats, from a foreigner point of view. "Haters gonna hate" is a not-so-subtle variation.

Why we Should Say these Cause Cancer (2, Interesting)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404568)

On the linked article, I saw a lot of civil libertarians and privacy advocates dismissing the health concerns of these devices as secondary to privacy concerns. While this maybe true, this is a bad way to influence the average person. Instead, we should be promoting a massive campaign to state that X-Ray devices of all types cause cancer and other radiation related illnesses. Leave any strange population control or other conspiracies out of it (even if you have them). We just want to instil this belief as an undercurrent that goes throughout society. Just like the current smart meter scare. As technical people, when we instil fear about something, people will listen.

Re:Why we Should Say these Cause Cancer (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404678)

As technical people, when we instil fear about something, people will listen.

Sure, right up until they figure out that we, like everyone else whom they thought they trust, have also been lying through our teeth. At that point they bring out the pitchforks, and rightfully so. Remember that old saw "we have seen the enemy, and he is us?" We have to be careful not to adopt too many of the tactics of those currently in power or we, in the end, are no better. The ends do not justify the means

The reason that lay people tend to trust those with knowledge is because they don't have the ability to tell if that educated person is lying or incompetent, and because of that have no choice but to hope the expert knows what the Hell he's talking about. We've all been in that position at one time or another in our lives: having to trust someone that knows substantially more than we do about something important to us. It's rarely a pleasant position to be in.

Are you really telling me that it's okay to deliberately lie to people, abuse their trust in a big way, simply because it's for their own good? Because we assume that it's for their own good? That's precisely what our government and our corporate leaders have been doing to us for years. So far as I'm concerned, if we're so far gone as a society that we can't fight this with reality, with facts, with what is, then We the People don't deserve to survive anyway. In any event, that's not a campaign of which I would choose to play a part. Furthermore, you will have to accept that there will be some deaths involved should you be successful in this, as people who might otherwise have received a medical X-ray or CT scan refuse them out of fear. There are always consequences to fearmongering and ignorance peddling.

Re:Why we Should Say these Cause Cancer (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404748)

That's true. I was very angry and did not think through the consequences of this idea.

Re:Why we Should Say these Cause Cancer (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404898)

That's true. I was very angry and did not think through the consequences of this idea.

Oh, make no mistake ... it irritates the Hell out of me too. Let's face it: power can be an intoxicant just as powerful as any psychotropic chemical compound, and is just as ripe for abuse. Personally, I believe the Drug Enforcement Agency's efforts would be better directed at politicians than drug users. Find the ones who are abusing the power to which they've become addicted and are abusing, and get rid of them.

Here in the free world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404580)

...that would never be tolerated. We would vote the bums out.

Viva la resistance! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404606)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corner_reflector

Send their radiation right back at 'em!

Seriously. If they ever start doing this, I *will* build something that will let me reflect it all back.

how long until.... (2, Interesting)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404610)

...some clever bastard rigs up something that is triggered by an x-ray detector?

Can't wait for... (5, Funny)

geogob (569250) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404614)

..."Google X-ray backscatter view". Germans are really going to love that one!

If they exist they can be used (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404616)

The only question is: How do these scanners work, and How can we make them unable to see into our vehicles and other private places ?

Is there a material we can apply to the walls in our house and the windows + frames of our vehicles to negate the utility of these scanners against our possessions?

Re:If they exist they can be used (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404652)

I wonder how effective lead-based paint is in dealing with backscatter? I frankly would not want to be sitting in a livingroom in a brownstone building and having regular street sweeps by these vans. Oh, but with a glass front window, paint would be useless. What kind of insane level have we reached when the government X-rays us at their whim and we have no recourse?

Re:If they exist they can be used (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404668)

Not if the glass is made in china!!
Cause its leaded. Probably.

Re:If they exist they can be used (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404682)

Oh.. I said 'they can be used'... not that we have no recourse, or that it is legal. The problem is they can do a lot of spread out harm in the mean time / interrim until someone reacts to try to fix this wrong.

Seems like a textbook case for a class-action suit though.

The problem is it needs to be proven in court that the X-rays harmed a lot of people, or legislative action, before anything gets done. Which is hard when they are allowed to operate these things in secrecy, and the harmful effects are so spread out, that nobody can prove The gov't X-ray is the one thing that caused cancer or sterility for them; since there are so many other variables involved.

The problem with lead-based paints is they are illegal, are they not?

You could put the barrier behind the glass front window.

Re:If they exist they can be used (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404694)

The only question is: How do these scanners work, and How can we make them unable to see into our vehicles and other private places ?

Is there a material we can apply to the walls in our house and the windows + frames of our vehicles to negate the utility of these scanners against our possessions?

Yes, I think they call it lead. Sadly, I hear it's pretty toxic, pretty high mass and thus pretty heavy. :-)

I can think of a good use (2, Interesting)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404638)

Spying on me without a warrant is a non-starter. But I personally would love some backup protection against accidentally leaving a young child in the vehicle on a hot day (before making snarky comments about Darwin Awards, read this Pulitzer prize winning article [washingtonpost.com] . It's not about intelligence. Just read it. Seriously.)

A couple of problems might be: (a) narrowing down the scope of the search such that society would both desire and trust the process, and (b) figuring out how to detect living, moving soft tissues of babies or pets in the vehicle, versus the solid metal of guns or something -- I don't know if this part is even feasible.

OK, you can start the "think of the children" cat calls now. :P But I bet there are a few Slashdot parents out there (like me) who would love to see some backup protection against their worst nightmare. The scenario is that you forget to drop your kid off at daycare, then run in to work. Many hours later, you return to your car, at which time it's too late. Your typical working parents have the opportunity to make this mistake every morning at seven, five days a week.

Re:I can think of a good use (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404708)

I personally would love some backup protection against accidentally leaving a young child in the vehicle on a hot day

That sounds like a vehicle feature.

Use infrared-based detectors intersecting with each seat to monitor for living beings being present in the car.

If the temperature gauge is too high or too low, the vehicle is off, and nobody is in the driver's seat, then sound a dedicated alarm tone for 5 minutes, audible from outside and inside the vehicle.

Re:I can think of a good use (1)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404820)

Yes, I've thought about that, too; it solves a lot of problems with the "external" solutions. It's not too far-fetched to imagine it as a standard vehicle feature.

Re:I can think of a good use (3, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404756)

There is something wrong with you if you need the government to run up and down the street with mobile scanners to ensure you didn't leave your child in the car. Forgetting your child in the car while you go to work shouldn't even be possible. How absent minded could you be?

if this isn't some sort of joke you should be neutered and have your children taken away.

Re:I can think of a good use (1)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404850)

Sounds like someone who hasn't read the article I linked to; there was a reason it won a Pulitzer prize this year. As Gene Weingarten painfully documents, this happens to people from all tiers of society, with all levels of intelligence, and from all ethnic backgrounds. If there is anything it is not, it is "some sort of joke".

On the other hand, if you are posting as a teenager in your mom's basement, please just ignore this for another 5 or 10 years. Someday it will be important to you.

modest proposal (2, Insightful)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404684)

Some rich libertarian should buy one of these machines and a van, and start roving the streets building their own image archive. And then they should link the photos to Google Street View. Fair is fair. No assumption of privacy on the streets, right? Besides, this kind of information can be useful for ordinary citizens. For instance, I can see how many gun/knife/crack-pipe toting people are in a given area and make my own decision as to how safe that neighborhood is. And since I'm not the government, there's no Fourth Amendment concern.

Different device, same theory (4, Informative)

davmoo (63521) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404740)

SCOTUS ruled several years ago (and I'm too lazy to get a link to the ruling right now) that law enforcement could not use things like infrared and thermal imaging of a house to detect pot-growing operations without a warrant. Their ruling was something to the effect of "If a person can't see it from the street without using fancy equipment, it needs a warrant".

This is obviously different technology, but I fail to see how this would be any different in the eyes of SCOTUS and that ruling.

guess what (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404742)

Before anybody even thinks of defending this technology they should at least study it's affects on pacemakers. seriously.

Google Street View... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33404772)

... FTW!

Vancouver olympics (5, Interesting)

future assassin (639396) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404848)

They were using the x ray vans in Vancouver. I know one person who works as a delivery driver and he got pulled over downtown Van for having several 24L bottles of liquid in his van. Also they were looking for other things too as I also know of one person busted for having 10+ lb of weed in the car while driving through an area where the vans patrolled.

This is awsome for the police! (3, Funny)

durrr (1316311) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404872)

If the officers don't like you, they'll peek at you naked with this device and then arrest you for undecent public exposure.

Next up in law enforcement technology: Directed transcranial magnetic stimulation to disable the visual cortex of bystanders to prevent criminals from identifying those who protect us, dualing in its use for making criminals confess all crimes they are accused for.

"Vehicle-based bombs" (1)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 4 years ago | (#33404886)

Car bombs? Seriously? I can't remember the last time anyone blew up a car in a socially stable society.

Did they hold a contest for the lamest excuse? Or is it April Fool's Day already?

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