X-Ray body-scanning vans raise major privacy concerns

Saturday, August 25, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: body scanners, X-rays, privacy

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(NaturalNews) As good as technology has been throughout the centuries for the development and advancement of Mankind, it is becoming a four-letter-word in the 21st century as it is being used more and more to rob us of our constitutionally-protected right to privacy.

In fact, it's to the point now that Leviathan governments throughout the West - in Great Britain, birthplace of the Magna Carta, the "Great Charter of the Liberties of England (1215 A.D.); and the greatest of all documents of liberty, the U.S. Constitution - no longer regard those rights as inviolable, as long as you step foot outside of your home.

Consider the latest assault on privacy: Roving backscatter X-ray vans roaming through your city streets. Yes; that's right, the sadistic exploitation of your person is not just for overzealous TSA agents at the nearby airport anymore.

According to a recent report in Forbes, Billerica, an American Science & Engineering firm based in Massachusetts, has sold more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans to both U.S. and foreign government agencies over the past few years. The vans are being driven past neighboring vehicles in order to view their contents, Joe Reiss, one of the company's vice presidents of marketing, told the financial magazine.

It's the technology, stupid

He said though the biggest purchaser of the machines over the past seven years has been the Defense Department, which has deployed them to Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. law enforcement agencies are increasingly using the x-ray-equipped vans to conduct bomb-searches of vehicles domestically. They have also been used at U.S. border crossings to scan vehicles for illegal immigrant stowaways.

"This product is now the largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever," Reiss said.

The Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs as the company labels them, work by bouncing narrow streams of x-rays off and through nearby objects, then read which ones return.

Absorbed rays tend to indicate dense material such as steel, but scattered rays indicate objects that are less dense, which could include explosives, human beings or drugs. Such capability makes them ideal for security, law enforcement and border control, advocates say.

Yet it's precisely that kind of technology that has privacy advocates so anxious. The machines being used to equip the mobile x-ray vans are the same type that have been deployed in airports around the country by the Transportation Security Administration.

In fact, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, has filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security to stop the agency from using the backscatter machines because they are capable of providing extremely detailed (and personal) images of human bodies.

"Just how much detail became clear last May, when TSA employee Rolando Negrin was charged with assaulting a coworker who made jokes about the size of Negrin's genitalia after Negrin received a full-body scan," Forbes said.

Sure, the rays can penetrate clothing, but what's the big deal?

"It's no surprise that governments and vendors are very enthusiastic about [the vans]," Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC, told the magazine. "But from a privacy perspective, it's one of the most intrusive technologies conceivable."

Reiss, naturally, defended his company's x-ray machines, saying the ZBV scans don't capture as much human-body detail as the backscatter machines at the nation's airports. He points to the company's marketing materials which say the "primary purpose" of the machines "is to image vehicles and their contents," and that "the system cannot be used to identify an individual, or the race, gender or age of the person."

He goes onto admit; however, that the systems can, "to a large degree" see through clothing, but still maintains the scans are not nearly as detailed as airport machines.

"From a privacy standpoint, I'm hard-pressed to see what the concern or objection could be," he said, in a statement that would most likely be utterly incomprehensible to our founding fathers.

Crony capitalism - where the Leviathan pays off industry to go along with the destruction of our liberties - is obviously the new, preferred business model in post-constitutional America.


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