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Pornoscan goes mobile
November 15, 2010 8:18 PM   Subscribe

Thinking of not flying to avoid being scanned? Better not drive either: A breakthrough in X-ray detection technology, AS&E's Z Backscatter Van™ (ZBV) is a low-cost, extremely maneuverable screening system built into a commercially available delivery van. The ZBV allows for immediate deployment in response to security threats, and its high throughput capability facilitates rapid inspections. The system's unique "drive-by" capability allows one or two operators to conduct X-ray imaging of suspect vehicles and objects while the ZBV drives past.

"If you have been feeling uneasy about having to be X-rayed by a Transportation Security Administration goon who can look under your clothes every time you fly, consider this: at least you can say no, and agree to be subjected to an old-fashioned full-body search.

No opt-out for the latest in anti-terror technology though, with reports just out in Forbes Magazine and the Christian Science Monitor that the Homeland Security Department has purchased 500 mobile X-ray vans called ZBVs that can scan cars, trucks and homes without the drivers even knowing that they're being zapped."

Previously (we seemed so innocent back in 2006...) Some Nifty Screening Toys
posted by 445supermag (43 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
As if vans needed to be made any creepier.
posted by Demogorgon at 8:22 PM on November 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


If your van's rockin', you'd better believe they'll come a-knockin'.

Or just a-violatin' your privacy, without actually a-knockin' or a-notifyin' you in any way.
posted by No-sword at 8:27 PM on November 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ass, gas, or grass...nobody rides for free.
posted by Demogorgon at 8:35 PM on November 15, 2010


...if used properly, the radiation doses received by targeted persons would be very minute....

In other words, people gonna get cancer. Anything that can penetrate 14 inches of steel is not going to be good for you.

And it's really going to get hilarious when terrorists develop bombs that are triggered by X-rays.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:41 PM on November 15, 2010 [14 favorites]


posted by Demogorgon As if vans needed to be made any creepier.

Yep. Gangs of perverts will do drive-by nudings.
posted by mattdidthat at 8:44 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Outside of border crossings, this is an illegal product.

But somehow I doubt the "strict constitutionalist" tea partiers will complain.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:51 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Isn't there a court ruling saying that law enforcement can't use imaging technology to scan inside people's houses? There are certainly limits to vehicle searches that have been hashed out in court.

How is mobile backscatter scanning not subject to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution? (I understand that nonUSians may have different laws about this)

Or is this this just another disingenuous end run where law enforcement says "The Founding Fathers didn't expressly prohibit "AS&E Proprietary Z Backscatter™ technology" in the Constitution, so it's perfectly legal." ?
posted by Xoebe at 8:53 PM on November 15, 2010


So, if lady gaga joined the tea party and was scanned by the TSA, would metafilter implode?

damn, this is getting tiresome.
posted by HuronBob at 9:02 PM on November 15, 2010


A personal request:

Please... don't fly, don't drive, don't leave the house, maintain a sufficient supply of tinfoil, and, here's the real secret, the TSA (and the tea party) is accessing your thoughts through your keyboard... take that sucker and throw it into the nearest river, or let your cat pee on it.....
posted by HuronBob at 9:04 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what to do.
posted by vidur at 9:18 PM on November 15, 2010


It's not often that I am resentful of my youth. At least if I was elderly, I could take comfort in the fact that I'll be gone before this bullshit gets any further out of hand.
posted by sunshinesky at 9:30 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


(ugh, it's bedtime, my grammar is all over the place, but you get what I'm saying, right?)
posted by sunshinesky at 9:32 PM on November 15, 2010


When would they be able to use this? Kyllo v US established that police can't use thermal scanning without a warrant, and the decision's pretty broad. And that was Scalia, too.

Is the argument that because they're not scanning houses, it's okay? I don't get it.
posted by dmz at 9:34 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the argument is that the constitution does not apply to the actions of the DHS.
posted by Pseudology at 9:52 PM on November 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


In Soviet Russia, you inspect van.
posted by not_on_display at 9:59 PM on November 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Aw, and it's a German-manufactured van. How fitting.

I keed, sorry Germans!

Actually not kidding
posted by mullingitover at 10:16 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Xoebe: Isn't there a court ruling saying that law enforcement can't use imaging technology to scan inside people's houses?

I believe you're thinking of Kyllo v. United States which held that thermal imaging of a person's home constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment. However, note that there is a long-standing border search exception to the Fourth Amendment. So, there's that.
posted by mhum at 10:16 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Isn't there a court ruling saying that law enforcement can't use imaging technology to scan inside people's houses?

The Supreme Court decision was even stronger than that - law enforcement needs a warrant for thermal imaging. Without a warrant they can't even look from public view at the infrared radiation that your house gives off naturally, justified by the theory that thermometric cameras aren't commonly available to the public and so people maintain an expectation of privacy from such viewing. Short of overturning that (5-4) decision entirely, I can't imagine how it could be interpreted to not apply even more strongly to a scanner that is active instead of passive, one that is sold exclusively for security purposes rather than marketed to engineers on amazon.com.
posted by roystgnr at 10:24 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


mhum wins...
posted by roystgnr at 10:25 PM on November 15, 2010


What's that old pathetic redneck T-Shirt? Female Body Inspector? Ah yes, I can't WAIT for the FBI to have this van driving around the neighborhood.

The fuckin' Stasi would be so fucking jealous.
posted by symbioid at 10:33 PM on November 15, 2010


Who is fighting this kind of thing (legislatively and/or in court) and how can I give them my money?
posted by cali at 10:40 PM on November 15, 2010


Please... don't fly, don't drive, don't leave the house, maintain a sufficient supply of tinfoil, and, here's the real secret, the TSA (and the tea party) is accessing your thoughts through your keyboard... take that sucker and throw it into the nearest river, or let your cat pee on it.....

Yeah man, you can totally smell the cheeto-fingers and zine-printing sweatstains of the Writer of that "American Science and Engineering Inc" Web Sight from miles away. Ha !
DO YOU GET IT THE TRAILING "C" IN "INC" IS FOR CONSPIRACY
posted by setanor at 10:49 PM on November 15, 2010


Who is fighting this kind of thing (legislatively and/or in court) and how can I give them my money?

EPIC's taken up the scanner issue w/r/t DHS though specifically in airports. EPIC.org

It's a good start, along with the ACLU and EFF.

This thing specifically, I don't know that anyone's started that.
posted by dmz at 11:08 PM on November 15, 2010


I wonder what happens if two of these vans scan each other going opposite directions. As I never completed college, I assume time travel.
posted by davejay at 11:20 PM on November 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


Also:

"AS&E's Z Backscatter Van™ (ZBV) is a low-cost..."

Oh, there's a high cost, all right.
posted by davejay at 11:22 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Right--as Demogorgon says, ass, gas, or grass.

Probably mostly ass though.
posted by No-sword at 12:12 AM on November 16, 2010


fuk gas, lets cut out the middleman.
posted by clavdivs at 12:21 AM on November 16, 2010


note that there is a long-standing border search exception to the Fourth Amendment. So, there's that.

How many houses try to cross the border each day?
posted by saucysault at 1:19 AM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Five.
posted by Drexen at 2:50 AM on November 16, 2010


Eventually this technology is going to get out into public hands, legally or illegally. I wonder how that will play out?

"Hey, good-lookin'! We'll be back to pick you up later!"
posted by pracowity at 3:06 AM on November 16, 2010


What are the health effects of this? I mean, it's no Agent orange or Depleted Uranium, but still.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 5:53 AM on November 16, 2010


Did the situation change, or is within 100 miles of the border still an exception to the rules?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:02 AM on November 16, 2010


yo dog i heard u like unreasonable searches so i put a backscatter machine in your van so u can unreasonably search while u drive
posted by Legomancer at 7:26 AM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


My burbclave totally prevents these vans from even entering their zone of enhanced authority. Must really suck to live in one of the poor 'claves though.
posted by Babblesort at 7:49 AM on November 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


After a night of depressing reading on how financial institutions craft end runs around the law, my mind jumps to the applications for border exceptions for this - and other things.

I imagine it's only a matter of time before some teatard Congressman decides that there needs to be a law wherein county lines are regarded the same as international borders. Though it would ultimately wind up at the SCOTUS, who would smack it down, I figure it would take as long and be as effective as anti-torture efforts.
posted by Xoebe at 7:57 AM on November 16, 2010


I guess that will the terrorists ultimate victory. We'll end up irradiating ourselves to death out of dread of a bunch of people who increasingly seem to be not even capable of making a bomb that actually works.
posted by philipy at 10:19 AM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tuesday, November 12, 1940; Aged X-Ray Expert Who Tried To Revive Corpse Of Young Woman Is Freed Key West, Florida.
posted by clavdivs at 10:20 AM on November 16, 2010


X-Ray Detector + Arduino + Relay-activated tire spikes
posted by odinsdream at 11:17 AM on November 16, 2010


I realize this is my naive side speaking, but I sort of hope some law enforcement type does use this equipment, because by all that is right, the Supreme Court and every other court should then be quick to say no, not without a warrant. And then we will be set to challenge the outrageous loss of our 4th amendment rights at every single airport.

Really, if we don't draw the line with this technology, the 4th amendment might as well not exist.
posted by bearwife at 12:03 PM on November 16, 2010


bearwife: it's unclear why a court ruling against drive-by backscatter would have any relevance to the backscatter used in airports. It's the venue that matters... and how compelled you are to submit to the search.
posted by odinsdream at 12:11 PM on November 16, 2010


Because the venue shouldn't mean there is no threshold the government must meet to search, particularly when that venue is not an international border, but an airport. And particularly as we are now talking about virtual strip searches or extraordiinarily invasive personal searches.

I'd add that there is also a constitutional right to travel, so I'm not sold on the theory that no one is "compelled" to be searched at an airport.
posted by bearwife at 1:49 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


bearwife: I'm with you on those opinions, I just don't see how banning mobile scanning has anything to do with airports, except that it's the same technology, when courts have already upheld the rights of TSA to do full-body searches at airports. Courts have not upheld anything like that for regular citizens just walking around a street. So, if a court were to say that mobile scanners are illegal, I don't think this would have any bearing on airport procedures.
posted by odinsdream at 7:37 PM on November 16, 2010


Well, now I feel safer.

No, wait, instead of "safer" I meant "like I want to hit things."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:48 PM on November 16, 2010


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