Over at Forbes, there's a truly alarming write-up of documents uncovered by our friends at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which reveal a TSA Research Proposal to Body-Scan pedestrians and train passengers:
Giving Transportation Security Administration agents a peek under your clothes may soon be a practice that goes well beyond airport checkpoints. Newly uncovered documents show that as early as 2006, the Department of Homeland Security has been planning pilot programs to deploy mobile scanning units that can be set up at public events and in train stations, along with mobile x-ray vans capable of scanning pedestrians on city streets.
The documents, obtained from the Department of Homeland Security, show that from 2006 to 2008 the agency planned a study of of new anti-terrorism technologies that EPIC believes raise serious privacy concerns:
The projects range from “a walk through x-ray screening system that could be deployed at entrances to special events or other points of interest” to “covert inspection of moving subjects” employing the same backscatter imaging technology currently used in American airports.
The 173-page collection of contracts and reports, acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request, includes contracts with Siemens Corporations, Northeastern University, and Rapiscan Systems. The study was expected to cost more than $3.5 million.
One project (allocated to Northeastern University and Siemens) would mount backscatter x-ray scanners and video cameras on roving vans, along with other cameras on buildings and utility poles, to monitor groups of pedestrians, assess what they carried, and even track their eye movements.
In another program, the researchers were asked to develop a system of long range x-ray scanning to determine what metal objects an individual might have on his or her body at distances up to thirty feet.
1) It’s not clear to what degree the technologies outlined in the DHS documents have been implemented.
2) Multiple contacts at the DHS public affairs office didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.
In August of last year, Joe Reiss, the vice president of marketing of security contractor American Sciences & Engineering told Forbes that the company had sold more than 500 of its backscatter x-ray vans to governments around the world, including some deployed in the U.S. Those vans are capable of scanning people, the inside of cars and even the internals of some buildings while rolling down public streets. Reiss admitted that the van scans do penetrate clothing.
Check out the full documents over at the Forbes write-up...
By Alex Deane