Backscatter Vans Coming To A Street Near You To Emit Harmful X-rays
As the privacy controversy around full-body security scans begins to simmer, it's worth noting that courthouses and airport security checkpoints aren't the only places where backscatter x-ray vision is being deployed. The same technology, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, may be rolling out at a street near you.
American Science & Engineering (AS&E), a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents.
The ZBV employs AS&E's patented Z Backscatter technology, which reveals penetrates layers of matter that transmission X-rays cannot. It provides photo-like imaging for rapid analysis.
“This product is now the largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever,” says Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing.
It would also seem to make the vans mobile versions of the same scanning technique that’s riled privacy advocates as it’s been deployed in airports around the country. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is currently suing the DHS to stop airport deployments of the backscatter scanners, which can reveal detailed images of human bodies.
Reiss adds that the vans do have the capability of storing images. “Sometimes customers need to save images for evidentiary reasons,” he says. “We do what our customers need.”
What do you think? Do AS&E’s vans threaten your privacy? Do airport full-body scans?