Homeland Security Was Interested In Doing 'Covert' Pedestrian 'Scans' From 30 Feet Away
from the privacy-is-so-over dept
Last year, we wrote a few times about how there was a company selling scanner vans — based on the same technology used in those airport naked scanners — that could be used to surreptitiously look into vehicles. Mostly they were being sold to law enforcement, however some of them were being sold to private buyers. Given all this, it should come as little surprise that Homeland Security has been interested in expanded use of such scanning technologies, with a newly released report suggesting it explored greater surveillance with naked scanners — such as mobile units for special events or for public transportation hubs, as well as “covert” systems that could scan large groups of people without them knowing it. There was even discussion of one system that could scan people from 30 feet away.
To be honest, it’s not all that surprising that Homeland Security would explore all of this (and it’s a bit of an exaggeration to focus on the TSA as doing this — which is implied in the link, since it appears to be a wider DHS effort), so I don’t think it’s as big a deal as EPIC makes it out to be. EPIC tends to over-exaggerate these types of things. The TSA has responded to the story with a sort of carefully worded denial that doesn’t really speak to the issue:
“TSA has not tested the advanced imaging technology that is currently used at airports in mass transit environments and does not have plans to do so.”
The is a pretty narrowly defined answer. First, it only focuses on the mass transit part, and it also limits the answer to the specific imaging technology used at airports. It does not answer whether or not the TSA has looked at other forms of technology for these kinds of scans. On top of that, it narrowly limits the answer to the TSA, not the wider DHS. Is it really that hard for Homeland Security to give a straight answer? I mean, the idea that it might research these technologies seems perfectly reasonable. Why not just say that, and then be upfront about it?