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, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets. American Science & Engineering, 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, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.
Tag Archives | Security
The plane slowed and leveled out about a mile above ground. Up ahead, the Viennese castle glowed like a fairy tale palace. When the pilot gave the thumbs-up, Gerald Blanchard looked down, checked his parachute straps, and jumped into the darkness. He plummeted for a second, then pulled his cord, slowing to a nice descent toward the tiled roof. It was early June 1998, and the evening wind was warm. If it kept cooperating, Blanchard would touch down directly above the room that held the Koechert Diamond Pearl. He steered his parachute toward his target. A couple of days earlier, Blanchard had appeared to be just another twentysomething on vacation with his wife and her wealthy father. The three of them were taking a six-month grand European tour: London, Rome, Barcelona, the French Riviera, Vienna. When they stopped at the Schloss Schönbrunn, the Austrian equivalent of Versailles, his father-in-law’s VIP status granted them a special preview peek at a highly prized piece from a private collection. And there it was: In a cavernous room, in an alarmed case, behind bulletproof glass, on a weight-sensitive pedestal — a delicate but dazzling 10-pointed star of diamonds fanned around one monstrous pearl. Five seconds after laying eyes on it, Blanchard knew he would try to take it.
The Western world, from Australia to the United States, UK and parts of Europe, are moving in a unified front toward dictatorial Internet censorship. Australia has led the way, despite outcry from its populace, by “filtering” out certain banned content. In the United States, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, in continuing his family’s tradition of oppressing free humanity, has pushed forward Cybersecurity legislation that has already passed the House. He has done so in the name of warding off ghastly cyber “attackers” conceivably fronting for al Qaeda while ushering in a means to restrict free speech and expression online for the general population. With Obama’s support, most of the developed world has accepted plans for government-approved online activity...
Those on the lookout for Orwellian developments, start your engines: dominant Internet search company Google is teaming up with the NSA (a/k/a No Such Agency), according to the Washington Post:
… Read the rest
The world’s largest Internet search company and the world’s most powerful electronic surveillance organization are teaming up in the name of cybersecurity.
Under an agreement that is still being finalized, the National Security Agency would help Google analyze a major corporate espionage attack that the firm said originated in China and targeted its computer networks, according to cybersecurity experts familiar with the matter. The objective is to better defend Google — and its users — from future attack.
Google and the NSA declined to comment on the partnership. But sources with knowledge of the arrangement, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the alliance is being designed to allow the two organizations to share critical information without violating Google’s policies or laws that protect the privacy of Americans’ online communications.
How digital strip searches got fast tracked…
Back in 2002 when biometric ID cards were first being suggested by UK politicians many of those of us that opposed their introduction pointed out that fingerprinting is associated with criminal suspects and that treating citizens like criminals is unacceptable in a free society. Now the proposed digital strip searching of airline passengers in the UK raises similar concerns. The UK government is suggesting that passengers should stand with their hands up and submit to a scanning technology that reveals their naked body to airport security staff. If the public submits to this demand and accepts this technology then it raises serious concerns about people’s understanding of what privacy and freedom are and will not bode well for the future. It is up to the people of this country to take a stand and to say no to digital strip searches.
The pants incident
The current media hype around airport security has been sparked after an incident in the US on Christmas Day 2009.… Read the rest
At Yahoo Tech:
The latest airport security trend is the backscatter x-ray machine, touted as a powerful way to virtually frisk a traveler for contraband without the embarassment of a strip search.
Though touted as completely safe because the level of radiation is so low, travelers have been nervous about the devices — and not just because it shows off a nice outline of their privates to the people manning the machines — but because they remain scared of the health problems they might propose.
Looks like a little healthy paranoia might have been a good thing. While the conventional wisdom has held that so-called “terahertz radiation,” upon which backscatter x-ray machines are based, is harmless because it doesn’t carry enough energy to do cellular or genetic damage, new research suggests that may be completely wrong.
Specifically, researchers have found that terahertz radiation may interfere directly with DNA. Although the force generated is small, the waves have been found to “unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.”
I’m not a doctor, but that just doesn’t sound good…
[continues at Yahoo Tech]
Security expert Bruce Schneier argues that checking photo IDs at the airport is a waste of time. “If you think about it, everybody has a photo ID. All the 9/11 terrorists had a photo ID. The Unabomber had one. Timothy McVeigh had one… We pretend there’s this big master list of bad guys and if we look you up against the list, we’ll know if you’re a bad guy and we won’t let you on the plane. It’s completely absurd. We have no such list!”
“The no-fly list we have is full of innocent people. It catches nobody who’s guilty and everybody’s who’s innocent…”
He argues that except hardening the cockpit doors, nothing else done since September 11 has increased security. “Everything else is window dressing – security theater. It’s all been a waste of money and time….”
“The way to spend money on security – airport security, and security in general – is intelligence investigation and emergency response.… Read the rest
… Read the rest
There are two types of scanners we will have to endure at the airport; the millimeter-wave scanner and the ‘backscatter’ X-ray scanner. Both emit ‘high-energy’ radiation and are dangerous.
Body scanners have revolutionized the practice of medicine and has saved many lives, but we must question the government’s mandate to have people endure high-energy radiation in a non-life-threatening situation. We must protest the use of full-body scanners on children and young adults as they are at greater-risk of developing brain tumors and cancer from these machines. Cancer and tumors especially in the young will likely increase as more body scanners are being installed on a nationwide scale. There is just no “safe” dose of radiation, 50% of America’s cancers are radiation-induced.
People with medical implants such as pace-makers should also avoid electromagnetic pulse generating body scanners as they can significantly alter the waveform of the pacemaker pulse.
The millimeter wave scanners emit a wavelength of ten to one millimeter called a millimeter wave, these waves are considered Extremely High Frequency (EHF), the highest radio frequency wave produced.
Klint Finley writes for Mutate:
… Read the rest
To their credit, the “Oath Keepers” acknowledge the Patriot Act’s erosion of civil liberties as well. But where were they during the 8 years that Bush was president? Obama gets 400% more death threats than Bush but still lets people carry assault rifles around him, and the Oathers think that they’re being persecuted? Bush had people hauled away for wearing the wrong t-shirts.
I have little good to say about Obama, but I can’t say that his administration is less tolerant of dissent than Bush’s.
From the Oather’s Declaration of Orders We Will NOT Obey: “We will NOT obey any order to conduct warrantless searches of the American people, their homes, vehicles, papers, or effects — such as warrantless house-to house searches for weapons or persons.”
I take this to mean they will start refusing to do warrantless searches for drugs? For 28 years the federal government has waged war on its people (a disproportionate number of them black), using militarized civilian law enforcement agents, and it’s only now that a not-right-wing-enough black president has been elected that they are worried?