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Inside a Full-Body-Scanning X-Ray Van

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the seeing-right-through-you dept.

Security 313

Velcroman1 writes "In August, Slashdotters learned that full-body scanners were roaming the streets in vans: '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. Fox took a ride in one of the $800,000 vans, videotaping the entire event — and continues the debate about security, privacy, and health risks."

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Wait, FOX? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015598)

You know we're in trouble when FOX is complaining about invasion of people's privacy, instead of cheering how this will help track down "dirty terr'rists".

Re:Wait, FOX? (2)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015616)

Like most right-leaning orgs and people, Fox is insanely hypocritical.

Then again, so are most left-leaning orgs and people, too...so...yeah.

Re:Wait, FOX? (0, Troll)

Michael Kristopeit 7 (1913322) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015866)

slashdot users most of all.

slashdot = stagnated

Re:Wait, FOX? (1, Insightful)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015982)

Yes, when Fox reports on something that conservatives likes to hear about it's conservative propaganda and when it reports on something liberals like to hear about it's just being insanely hypocritical. Of course there's always the off chance that some member of it's gigantic staff is simply...reporting news?

Re:Wait, FOX? (1, Insightful)

osgeek (239988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016066)

Fox's being evil is an unfalsifiable hypothesis in some people's minds.

Re:Wait, FOX? (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016108)

Never said they were evil, just hypocritical...just like every other right-leaning and left-leaning news org.

The reason Fox gets so much flak is because it bills itself as being "fair and balanced", when it is neither. MSNBC says "We're full of shit. What're you gonna do about it?" There's no difference in their presentation or intention...the only difference is one admits it and one attempts to paint itself as the opposite of what it is.

Re:Wait, FOX? (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016404)

MSNBC says "We're full of shit. What're you gonna do about it?"

Really? Because MSNBC's web site says:

Msnbc.com delivers “A Fuller Spectrum of News,” with the most compelling, diverse and visually engaging stories on your platform of choice.

I don't see anything about them claiming to be full of shit. Do you really think MSNBC delivers a "fuller spectrum" of news than anybody else?

This is not a defense of Fox - I agree that they're hypocritical and biased - but I think you're failing to demonstrate that Fox is "the most" hypocritical, and thus deserving of an extra helping of flak and ridicule than the other news organizations, who are also hypocritical and biased, and who also try to pretend that they are 'serious' journalists with no agenda to push.

Re:Wait, FOX? (3, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016122)

When the organization itself contributes to the Republican party, all "news" is suspect.

Re:Wait, FOX? (2, Informative)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016142)

Note that it wasn't Fox News that did that...it was News Corp [nytimes.com] , the company that owns Fox News.

Not that it makes it any better.

Re:Wait, FOX? (4, Insightful)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015670)

Fox took a ride in one of the $800,000 vans, videotaping the entire event -- and continues the debate about security, privacy, and health risks.

The Government's new definition of debate: you keep talking amongst yourselves, we'll keep implementing.

Purpose? (5, Insightful)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015614)

Come on, tell me, what's the real purpose of this stuff? 8 million flights without a successful terrorist attack since 9/11. All attempts either simply failed or were prevented using pre-9/11 technology, yet we still get these naked body scanners.

Now we also need them roaming the streets? "Hey Joe, hottie on your six, make a turn and flip the switch boy, let's see what she's got!". Anything else doesn't come near a justification.

Re:Purpose? (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015626)

Cops always have the best porn!

Re:Purpose? (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015632)

But...b-b-b-but....manufacturing and surveillance jobs!

Re:Purpose? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015976)

By this argument, the gulags brought job security

Re:Purpose? (2, Informative)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016378)

In Soviet Russia ... job secures you!

Re:Purpose? (1)

Jazz-Masta (240659) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015766)

Come on, tell me, what's the real purpose of this stuff? 8 million flights without a successful terrorist attack since 9/11. All attempts either simply failed or were prevented using pre-9/11 technology, yet we still get these naked body scanners.

Now we also need them roaming the streets? "Hey Joe, hottie on your six, make a turn and flip the switch boy, let's see what she's got!". Anything else doesn't come near a justification.

Next there will be a $5 Bear Patrol tax...

Re:Purpose? (2, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015768)

I guess it works. Your statement about 8 million flights without a successful terrorist attack almost sounds like an endorsement.

Re:Purpose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015818)

I've got a tiger and elephant repelling rock to sell you.

Re:Purpose? (1, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016028)

You are also living with a logical fallacy. How can one judge security measures except by the lack of successful attacks? Why do you lock you car? Have you ever had your car stollen? I bet if you left it unlocked just once that nobody would steal it.

The deterrence value of a security measure is just about un-measurable. However their have been attempted attacks so unlike your tiger and elephant repelling rock there is data to suggest that their is a real threat still.
Now as to the trade off between security and liberty that is a different discusion.

Re:Purpose? (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016410)

However their have been attempted attacks so unlike your tiger and elephant repelling rock there is data to suggest that their is a real threat still.

The problem remains that 99.99999% of the thwarted attempted attacks have been retired military officers trying to carry tiny little swiss army knives on their keychain, and mothers trying to carry bulk supplies of baby formula onto the plane. Thats what happens when you let people set their own metric of success.

Re:Purpose? (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016440)

You are also living with a logical fallacy. How can one judge security measures except by the lack of successful attacks? Why do you lock you car? Have you ever had your car stollen? I bet if you left it unlocked just once that nobody would steal it.

    I've never been murdered either. Does that mean I should carry a concealed weapon, and be ready to draw at any moment? Oh ya, the answer is "no".

    And yes, I do own firearms, and I was a holder of a concealed weapons permit (since expired, gotta get around to renewing it), and yes, I did carry at particular times when there was an increased danger to my health or life.

    I don't see the deterrence value in such a vehicle. By buying and advertising such nonsense, it only shows the potential attackers where not to go. No, you don't drive through the security bottleneck, you go around it. So the next real terrorist attack won't happen by plane. It could happen on foot or public transportation (bus, train, subway, etc). The almost attempt in Times Square happened in a POV. Oddly enough, they didn't shut down all of NYC and start searching every POV for potential explosives. Then there's pleasure boats, cargo ships, private aircraft, blimps, balloons, etc.

    Ok, the list may have started to sound silly with balloons, but lets not forget about the fusen bakudan (Fu-Go) experiment.

    Dear god Helen, what can we do? Lock yourself in the basement, and pray nothing ever happens. (see the 1999 movie "Blast From the Past")

    Determining that there is no way to measure deterrence, and deciding that the only way to remain successful is to increase the deterrence methodology, leaves itself open for an infinite growth, limited only by the tolerance of the people who's tax dollars are being wasted on them. It's all fun and games, until you are beaten down for not having the proper papers on your person, or are outside of your authorized zone without the appropriate travel papers. In many states right now, the law does read that you are to have a state issued photo ID on you at all times. That technically includes the shower, and when you're stumbling out to get the morning paper. Enforcement of that would be insane. But hey, we all have to give up our liberties sometime, right?

Re:Purpose? (5, Funny)

gox (1595435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015810)

8 million flights without a successful terrorist attack since 9/11.

Stop these "measures", and attacks will resume. The whole purpose of terrorism is to, well, cause fear, and what's better than having the State do it for you?

The best way to avoid terrorism is to live in fear all the time.

Re:Purpose? (4, Insightful)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015854)

The best way to avoid terrorism is to live in fear all the time.

Of course, private business could generate just as much fear as the government, but with much lower cost to the private citizen...

Support deprivatization of the fear industry!

MOD PARENT UP (1)

tigre (178245) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015884)

The best way to avoid terrorism is to live in fear all the time.

Of course, private business could generate just as much fear as the government, but with much lower cost to the private citizen...

Support deprivatization of the fear industry!

Brilliant. Truly brilliant

Re:MOD PARENT UP (1)

gox (1595435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016234)

Brilliant. Truly brilliant

Agreed. But private business wouldn't be as effective in this sector as it is now, without the backing of the state. Subsidize it maybe?

Re:Purpose? (2, Insightful)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016012)

By why avoid it? Terrorism is way down on the list causes of death. Use that cash to fight obesity or cancer and you'll save a lot more lives.

Oh wait, seeing someone smile because they're cured of something horrible is not even remotely as fun as humiliating someone by having them take of their shoes and go through the nudy booth. Besides, saving the boob mama's to disk is still saving people.. sorta, right?

Re:Purpose? (2, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016296)

Living in fear all of the time is a neurosis for some, and psychosis for others.

You really believe that these measures are somehow abetting freedom, or liberty? They were a great excuse for a paranoid administration to lay seige on Americans, and heaven-forbid anyone wanting to come to the US. It was a great excuse to tromp and trump freedom, the US Constitution, and give bullies everywhere the Fear Card.

Re:Purpose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015820)

To transfer money from taxpayers to corporate executives and their lobbyist / lawmaker stooges?

Re:Purpose? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016070)

Because shipping containers and semi-trailers were exclusively lottery based inspections. With scanners like these most shipping containers and semi-trailers can be inspected at the port while shortening the delay that a physical inspection usually causes.

Now we also need them roaming the streets?

I didn't see anything in the slideshow that indicated that these were roaming the streets. I see this being used in a container yard or shipping hub which are places that US Customs and Border Protection actually patrol. BTW there is absolutely no expectation of privacy for any package or shipping container traveling on a common carrier (third-party delivery company for hire), entering or leaving the country, or stored within a maritime port or airport

Re:Purpose? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016430)

Come on, tell me, what's the real purpose of this stuff? 8 million flights without a successful terrorist attack since 9/11.

I read TFA, (I know, I know), and reference to air flights was fleeting to the point of non-existent.

Smuggled drugs, bombs, and people were the focus.

Your raising the issue of Air safety, and then smacking it down is excellent Straw Man technique.

Well played sir.

Re:Purpose? (1)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016436)

It's probably been a while since you've gotten into a car accident? Have you ditched the seatbelt yet? :)

You're not going to see these going down the street ahead of the ice cream truck. This is probably more for Presidential appearances or events where there's fuel for controversy.

Dumb to use away from points of entry (3, Insightful)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015620)

It's definitely a dumb idea to have these things just roaming the streets, and that's without even considering the privacy concerns. It's absurdly hard to actually identify items that only rarely occur, say weapons, in samples like this. The human eye just isn't that good at it. It gets worse the more samples you take. The only place I can see for this is scanning at the border where people being smuggled in would be pretty obvious. At the border, a search like this makes sense since by law it's necessary to declare many items that you bring into a country. Otherwise, not only is it mostly a waste of time, but a dead ringer for an unreasonable search. The article was light on just how prevalent their use is outside of ports and points of entry, so it's hard to say if there's any serious danger to the average person on the street. Also, health concerns are probably overblown. If the dose is in micro Sv, that's a small fraction of the regular background dose.

Re:Dumb to use away from points of entry (4, Interesting)

ACS Solver (1068112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015740)

Speaking of unreasonable searches. IANAM (I am not an American) and IANAL but wouldn't the ruling of Kyllo v. United States apply here? That case concerned infrared, not x-ray, technology, but it applied to surveillance of a house with technology that doesn't require the user to enter a house. The ruling also mentioned that the device used was not available to the public - same as these backscatter vans.

As such, could a lawyer explain how the use of these vans, at least pertaining to "viewing" homes, is not illegal per Kyllo v. United States?

Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015862)

The government is right, you are wrong. Care to argue further? Lets talk while we bring you to Gitmo.

Re:Dumb to use away from points of entry (0, Offtopic)

seyyah (986027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016318)

IANAM (I am not an American)

Wouldn't that be "I am not a Mexican" or "I am not a Montenegran"?

And what's the point of using an acronym once when you need to define it for people to understand?

Re:Dumb to use away from points of entry (4, Funny)

AhabTheArab (798575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016434)

I
Am
Not
A
Merkin

Re:Dumb to use away from points of entry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015912)

It's definitely a dumb idea to have these things just roaming the streets, and that's without even considering the privacy concerns.

Normally, I find privacy advocates have a pretty mushy idea of what privacy actually means. Often times a privacy advocate says something along the lines of, "I want to go to the store and buy a load of crap, but then I want them to pretend I was never there." Or sometimes it's just thinly veiled paranoia.

But then the police start driving trucks around everywhere scanning people, no warrant, no probable cause, no procedure whatsoever, just scan everyone anywhere they might happen to be, regardless of what they're doing, even if they're in their own house.

Re:Dumb to use away from points of entry (3, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015938)

It's absurdly hard to actually identify items that only rarely occur, say weapons, in samples like this.

And how do they know if I have a concealed carry permit? I'm going to hate being confronted every time one of these passes to prove that I have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Re:Dumb to use away from points of entry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34016048)

It's absurdly hard to actually identify items that only rarely occur, say weapons, in samples like this.

And how do they know if I have a concealed carry permit? I'm going to hate being confronted every time one of these passes to prove that I have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Just make sure your piece is in a holster, not stuck in the waistband of your boxers and you'll be just fine....

Re:Dumb to use away from points of entry (1)

Michael Kristopeit 7 (1913322) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015948)

it must be just as hard to identify extremely common items... i always carry this knife [amazon.com] with me... it's the biggest legal blade with legal switchblade action... i had forgot to take it out of my pocket and put it in my checked bag. as my checked bag was sitting right behind the desk, i asked the cashier to give me my bag back for a second as i had forgot to put something in it, but she played idiot and said it wasn't possible to let me touch my bag again... so retarded... NO JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS RULE... i put the knife in my backpack and went right through security with no problems.

it's a giant joke... an illusion to create jobs.

Re:Dumb to use away from points of entry (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016250)

What, you got a problem coming into my unmarked van and stripping so I can scan you?

a la Google (1)

anarking (34854) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015640)

people's paranoia about ominous large white vehicles is going to skyrocket again. but as Google did beyond everyone's eye by harvest wi-fi data and keeping it, again here, what will they do with these scans? "it was learned today that a city employee had started a p0rn website with the harvested body scans called ambiguousbodies.com. privacy advocates... don't exist." btw, what does the EFF even do these days?!

Re:a la Google (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016268)

But if the white vans go away, where will I get my super-hip, but overstocked into the van by a loading dock mistake nightclub stereo speaker systems for only $200? Those delivery guys in the van were nice enough to follow me to an ATM where I could withdraw the cash on the spot.

Easy to detect (1)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015660)

You know those wrist watches that measure UV and tell you when you've been in the sun too long? Add x-ray.

Re:Easy to detect (1)

AhabTheArab (798575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015984)

You know those wrist watches that measure UV and tell you when you've been in the sun too long?

Nope

Re:Easy to detect (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016456)

Whats a "watch"? I haven't seen anyone wearing one since the 90s

Health risk (5, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015678)

AS&E says the system is safe for operators and subjects, and that "one scan of the ZBV is equivalent to flying in an airplane at altitude for two minutes."

and my general understanding is even if you were exposed to a dosage from one of these machines, it would be equivalent to a chest x-ray or less," McCabe told FoxNews.com.

The above two are not the same. Assuming normal airline altitudes, it takes hours of flying to get the equivalent radiation dose of a chest x-ray.

"It was a secondary screening mechanism for trucks going into a loading dock

So if your job requires you to drive a truck into the loading dock every day, it better be much lower than "chest x ray" levels.

Some related discussion here: http://ask.metafilter.com/142917/Cumulative-backscatter-Xray-risk [metafilter.com]

Re:Health risk (1, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015824)

What risk? Yer all a bunch of whiners. You've all been to the dentist for a tooth x-ray, just imagine the dentist had to take the picture over and over and over and over...

Is that so much to ask for safety???

Re:Health risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015896)

The link is bullshit..

The rate of cancer death from a single x-ray has been estimated at about 8 in 10,000.

A CT scan is 10s-100s of chest x-rays equivalents. If the above is correct, each CT scan would result in a significant percentage of deaths. Furthermore,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computed_tomography#Typical_scan_doses
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_radiation

"The worldwide average background dose for a human being is about 2.4 millisievert (mSv) per year"

Since chest X-rays is 0.1 or so, the chance of death caused by background radiation is 2% per year! That means in 50 years, ALL should be dead from cancer caused by the lethal levels of background radiation! Obviously that is not true.

You may also want to read this,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hormesis

But I still would not like to be exposed to needless radiation for the purpose of questionable security.

Re:Health risk (2, Insightful)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015964)

As you point out, for those regularly exposed to such machines, the health risk may be considerable. Also, presumably, the vans operate at a higher power / intensity than airport scanner units.

Also, how is the x-ray energy distributed? ... evenly or in intense beam(s) that could potentially, at times, far exceed the normal stated output rating.

On a related note, how reliable is the software / interlocks to prevent unintended excess output? - this has been a longtime, persistent problem with various diagnostic machines used in hospitals with people occasionally dying ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therac-25 [wikipedia.org]

Ron

Re:Health risk (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016046)

The above two are not the same. Assuming normal airline altitudes, it takes hours of flying to get the equivalent radiation dose of a chest x-ray.

Well, the last few flights I took lasted hours. I've been on literally dozens of flights that have lasted hours.

"Hours" is probably one of the least useful metrics you could have included there. Hundreds of hours? Thousands of hours? One Million Hours?

I mean, anybody who has done a fair amount of travel has been aloft for easily a hundred hours -- I'm damned sure I have.

Warning. No pix there. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015688)

Looked at the article. They have no sample pictures posted there.

[A public service announcement for the benefit of the slashdot community]

Re:WOOT! Video there! (1)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015758)

You looked at the article, but did you watch the video [foxnews.com] ?

The video includes several images of cars, showing suspicious cargo. No pictures of a scanned house, however.

Re:Warning. No pix there. (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016026)

There's a slideshow at the top of the article showing vehicles and packages with things hidden in them, for packages comparing the backscatter to conventional scans.

sterile? (1)

Deadstar_lll (1915024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015694)

OUCH MY SPERM...expect the population to drop in a few years lol

if they can see through cars... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015708)

I guess a tinfoil suit is not going to work, eh?

How does this happen? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015720)

Remind me again why we haven't burned DC to the ground yet? How can ANYONE, of ANY political affiliation, see this shit and not be completely outraged?

Re:How does this happen? (1)

tietokone-olmi (26595) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015744)

They still support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite overwhelming evidence that the US is and continues to be exactly the cynical torturer that the worst voices in Europe have said. That is to say: YOU'RE ALL BLEEDING HYPOCRITES.

Re:How does this happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015890)

I agree that the overseas adventures of the US military are totally bullshit. However, many people find it easy to overlook things happening far away. What I fail to understand is how something this blatantly 1984 and this close to home can be presented in the manner that FOX new did. This is not something with two sides, this is not something to be discussed. This is a violation of so many rights, and a more overt declaration of war by the US government against its citizens than any that has come before.

Re:How does this happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015968)

McVeigh? Is that you?

Re:How does this happen? (5, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015988)

You really believe either of the two parties in power in the US gives a shit about you and your individual rights? Obama is just as bad as Bush was, and Clinton and Bush before them.

The reason why people haven't burned DC down is because 90+% vote for those two parties, thinking that they are different. They are just two sides of the same coin. If you vote, and vote for "change" and yet vote for one of the two parties, and you deserve to get what you get, more of the same.

Libertarians are outraged, but we're also marginalized to meaninglessness. Nobody cares, and that is why DC still stands.

Re:How does this happen? (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016408)

90% of people vote for the two parties because >50% of the population in spite of their protests demands the goverment do this or else they will stop voting for their representative for not 'protecting' them.

When a majority of the voting block doesn't crucify a politician for suggesting that terrorists don't pose as great of threat as the security procedures to protect us from said terrorists we could start making progress. Remember when Obama said he wanted to make terrorism just another law enforcement problem like the mob or robbery? He was strung up by his ankles and had to back off because of the Fox News "Obama is coddling terrorists" line.

NPR just fired an journalist for saying that he gets nervous whenever he sees a muslim on a plane because we shouldn't deny that we're 'at war with islam'. It's evidently just "politically correct" and 'soft' to suggest that a muslim isn't hiding in every bush waiting to jump out and kill you.

Re:How does this happen? (1, Funny)

Kozz (7764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016450)

You really believe either of the two parties in power in the US gives a shit about you and your individual rights? Obama is just as bad as Bush was, and Clinton and Bush before them.

The reason why people haven't burned DC down is because 90+% vote for those two parties, thinking that they are different. They are just two sides of the same coin. If you vote, and vote for "change" and yet vote for one of the two parties, and you deserve to get what you get, more of the same.

Libertarians are outraged, but we're also marginalized to meaninglessness. Nobody cares, and that is why DC still stands.

Ahh, but if you're a Libertarian, and someone is burning down DC, you'll need to find out if they've paid their annual firefighting insurance payment before putting out said fire.

(I leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide whether I'm making a joke, social commentary, both, or neither.)

Re:How does this happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34016030)

Because we are getting fucked by either an R or a D every year. We are too busy fighting ourselves to stand up and tell these people we want our rights back. Look at the healthcare reform the polls said the people didn't want it, but we got it anyways. Our government is so disconnected from the people it is not even funny.

What could go wrong? (1, Informative)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016346)

If you RTFA you will see that this is all for your benefit. "state privacy laws would prohibit individuals or private companies from abusing the vans, while the Fourth Amendment prohibits law enforcement agencies from doing the same."
See? Now calm down and get back to work, peasant.

Just for fun... (5, Funny)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015728)

I'm gonna start carrying a mannequin in the trunk of my car.

Tinfoil? (1)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015742)

Forget the hat, it's time to start wearing tinfoil underwear!

Illegal Search (5, Insightful)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015748)

Why is this not considered an illegal search? How can the government get away with just x-raying people now?

Re:Illegal Search (1)

Orga (1720130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015842)

How is this an illegal search? It's within plain atomic sight.

Re:Illegal Search (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015898)

Well I have a feeling the price of lead is going to shoot way up :)

Trunk full of unexposed/undeveloped film? (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015942)

Maybe its a good thing people shoot mainly digital today.

Would a real film photographer need a lead lined box for his film now?

Re:Illegal Search (5, Informative)

Speare (84249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016002)

How is this an illegal search? It's within plain atomic sight.

In Kyllo vs United States, the Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) search without warrant was deemed unconstitutional [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Illegal Search (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016078)

Thanks for finding that case. I was going to post a ref to it but I didn't know the name of it, and I was not in the mood to search for that case at work :)

Re:Illegal Search (4, Informative)

Orga (1720130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016266)

"Since the police did not have a warrant when they used the device, which was not commonly available to the public, the search was presumptively unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional. The majority opinion argued that a person has an expected privacy in his or her home and therefore, the government cannot conduct unreasonable searches."

And how long before it's no longer reasonable to expect privacy, we can no longer expect it in our driveway or under our clothing.

Re:Illegal Search (2, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015846)

Because the government gets to decide what is illegal.
Because most people do not care.

Ah, the Real Motivation is Drug War and Money (5, Insightful)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015756)

This blurb in the article basically says it all...

"Using the ZBV vans over the past couple of years, we've gotten over a thousand seizures and 89,000 pounds worth of narcotics, approximately $4 million worth of currency, and we've also uncovered 10 or 11 undeclared aliens within vehicles," said Patrick Simmons, Director of Non-Intrusive Inspection at Customs and Border Protection. "Again, we don't purposely scan for people, but if they're in there hiding, the ZBV will be able to spot them."

While many dismiss / marginalize the threat of the drug war on people's freedoms, it's happening nevertheless. For example, there was a time when local police busting down doors was virtually unheard of - now it's common practice in all sorts of situations. Another is that people are now subjected to all sorts of demands, such providing government id / signing a form, to buy over-the-counter cough medicine. All in the name of the drug war - which is really a war against citizens.

For anyone who believes use of such technology to search people / private property will be ruled unconstitutional, think again - drug sniffing dogs are often allowed to search one's private property, such as one's vehicle, that's accessible from the street despite no "contraband" being in plain view.

One can practically count on such vans roaming the streets all throughout the U.S. in the near future "for your protection", but of course, much of the time, that won't be the real motivation.

Ron

Re:Ah, the Real Motivation is Drug War and Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015960)

Exactly. When I read that my first thought was "Ok, but how many terrorists and real criminals has it caught?"

Re:Ah, the Real Motivation is Drug War and Money (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015990)

I wonder how we haven't heard of people with gun carry permits being stopped after one of these machines scan them. After all the machine does not know that you have a permit.
                In some areas a scan of students cars coming into the parking lot would reveal quite a few firearms within vehicles. Both guns and dope are often sold by students one to another.

Re:Ah, the Real Motivation is Drug War and Money (0, Offtopic)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016090)

You never had any privacy rights against search when entering the country. This has been true since our country was first founded and merchant ships entering port could be inspected to check their cargo. But if suddenly blaming searches at the border on your cause of the day makes you feel better why let facts get in your way?

Re:Ah, the Real Motivation is Drug War and Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34016428)

And if their isn't a delineated right against search and seizure at the border, so what? Are you saying that it's okay then? It's still bullshit, and while bad enough against "people" it is horrifically abusive behaviour against "citizens." And if that right doesn't show up in the bill of rights, or anywhere in the constitution, then anyone who is in favor of securing himself against the abusive powers of government should be proposing addressing the situation. The bullshit you have to deal with to bring your data over a border in a secure fashion is fucking insane and allowing a mindset of "well it's the law" or "it's not a right according to x" just ignores the underlying issue completely in favour of total government control.

Re:Ah, the Real Motivation is Drug War and Money (3, Insightful)

eth1 (94901) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016162)

For anyone who believes use of such technology to search people / private property will be ruled unconstitutional, think again - drug sniffing dogs are often allowed to search one's private property, such as one's vehicle, that's accessible from the street despite no "contraband" being in plain view.

The difference with a drug dog is that they're not searching your car, they're searching the ambient air. It IS in plain "veiw" (nasally) to them. The car is basically leaking drug particles all over the place, which is glaringly obvious if you have the wetware to detect it. This is completely different from scanning the inside of a person/vehicle/house. Would a cop be out of line if he walked down the street and smelled MJ smoke when he passed a parked car, and went to investigate?

Re:Ah, the Real Motivation is Drug War and Money (3, Insightful)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016414)

The cop could lie, and the dog could be trained to lie, which potentially subjects everyone to unacceptable harassment. With machines honesty is a generally higher--though buggy closed-sourced devices aren't very trustworthy. The problem is really the government prohibition of the possession of certain molecules. This is the invasion of liberty that all searches just make more evident. Even if we are talking about 100lbs of plastic explosives, it's not clear that cost/benefit ratio (for us, not the government) justifies making possession a crime.

Re:Ah, the Real Motivation is Drug War and Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34016192)

Brings to mind the roving vans in V for Vendetta.. checking all conversations in the area for dissension and hiding.

In unrelated news... (4, Funny)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015774)

In totally unrelated news, statistics show that tall, slender and well endowed women are more prone to being terrorists, not young middle-eastern bearded men.

Replace tinfoil hats (1)

bytestorm (1296659) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015796)

... With tinfoil clothing? (or substitute your favorite x-ray opaque material)

Re:Replace tinfoil hats (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016206)

... With tinfoil clothing? (or substitute your favorite x-ray opaque material)

Bullet proof bikini FTW

Hey Buddy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015840)

Can I borrow $800,000 until payday?

X-rays or microwaves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34015844)

I thought these backscatter devices used harmless microwaves, not X-rays? If someone drives an X-ray emitter past me they are going to find my boot up their ass.

Also I thought they could only see through clothing, not metal, so this excuse about looking for bombs in cars seems BS.

Re:X-rays or microwaves? (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016016)

You're thinking of terahertz waves which are between IR and micro. They are also used in security imaging devices including whole body imaging. X-ray backscatter is a different technology unrelated to t-wave devices. Terahertz waves cannot provide useful imagery through metal, but x-rays can, depending on the alloy involved and its thickness (and the potential for intelligent resolution compensation in the x-ray's imaging software).

Break out the... (1)

troylanes (883822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015904)

...tinfoil underwear?

No no no no no! (3, Interesting)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34015930)

Expectation of privacy. You implicitly allow search by entering an airport, but a billion court rulings state that the authorities cannot look inside your house or car without probable cause.

X ray tech counts as a search. What kind of legal advisor could ever sign off on this?

Besides, it's totally impractical. 15 seconds per scan? Useless in open traffic. Useless at a major event (15 sec x 10000 cars = 2 days in line to be searched).

Useless expensive and illegal. Thanks DHS!

Re:No no no no no! (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016096)

Besides, it's totally impractical. 15 seconds per scan? Useless in open traffic. Useless at a major event (15 sec x 10000 cars = 2 days in line to be searched).

Fortunately its a parallelizable problem.

15 sec x 10000 cars / 48 vans = 1 hour in line to be searched.
15 sec x 10000 cars / 96 vans = 30 minutes in line

Plus they could scan every second car and cut those times in half again. Sure they'll only hit 50% percent of the traffic, but few criminals will tolerate a 50/50 shot of being busted on the spot; so its still an effective deterrent.

Not that I'm defending these things. Advocates of this sort of use of technology ought to doused in gasoline and driven off a cliff... preferably in one of these vans, killing two birds with one stone.

Re:No no no no no! (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016124)

X ray tech counts as a search. What kind of legal advisor could ever sign off on this?

Ever heard of Alberto Gonzales [wikipedia.org] ? Look hard enough, and you can get a yes-man who will sign off on anything.

That guy would have stripped any and all provisions in the constitution under the provision of "we're allowed to because we say so".

Re:No no no no no! (3, Insightful)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016240)

Expectation of privacy. You implicitly allow search by entering an airport, but a billion court rulings state that the authorities cannot look inside your house or car without probable cause.

Slippery-slope comes to mind. Since when did one relinquish their rights at the airport? -it wasn't always that way. And furthermore, such searches are now becoming routine on long-haul passenger trains (ie. Amtrak) and buses (Greyhound) too. And even one's own vehicle at some select locations, such as tunnel entrances.

You're assuming the government will protect one's rights - sadly, that's often not the case. Watch some episodes of COPS for a reality check on how policing really works in the U.S. - the police state is already here.

In addition, home monitoring technology has greatly improved and hence, the number of people under court supervision is rapidly expanding so, in turn, there's little in the way of stopping the police state of expanding ... it's easily conceivable that upwards of 10% of the adult population could in the next decade or so be under some court mandated supervision.

Digressing, but don't think for a second, that the courts alone are going to stop technology, such as the vans, from being used for searching people / property - only a revolution, or more ideally, some power-elites, choosing to put freedom of citizens ahead of profits and power will. Anything else is wishful thinking. In the meantime, about the best one can do is be aware of these things / educate others and navigate the system best one can.

Ron

waste? in my bueracracy? umpossible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34016258)

Useless expensive and illegal. Thanks DHS!

Sums it up quite nicely.

Privacy only goes one way, I guess... (1)

chrisl456 (699707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016050)

FTFA:

"Due to the highly sensitive nature of the markets that our products serve, AS&E respects the individual requests of our customers to be confidential," the company says

So, let me get this straight... only people that have $800,000 or so to spend on these nifty trucks deserve privacy?

As I have often repeated: look forward to more (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34016210)

There is no ideology for which the masterminds and the Richelieus don't feel more surveillance is always well served.

Stereotypically:
Conservatives? Got to catch those criminals, protect property and keep an eye on the dregs of society
Liberals? Got to expose those miscreants that threaten social order, cohesion and unity
Religious? Got to find those sins against God because He prefers that we punish them instead of doing it Himself
Green? Got to be able to find out when someone pollutes or damages Nature
Fascist? Got to rule society and kick the ass of those antifascists
Antifascist? Got to control society and kick the ass of those fascists
Communist: No shirking on the job unless you can't help yourself

The I-don't-believe-in-surveillance-party: Got to... oh yes, this one, actually. Number of this party in existence in countries across the globe: 0

It's not about what the goon in the street wants, its what the masterminds at the top wants. Because we WILL get more surveillance we should rather find out how to deal with it. Maybe actually tin foil in walls is not a terrible idea.

Facinating (1)

Pandrake (1513617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34016348)

When I clicked to read the slashdot comments for this article, the quote at the bottom of the page reads:

"I consider a new device or technology to have been culturally accepted when it has been used to commit a murder. -- M. Gallaher"

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