by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 25th 2010 1:12pm
Already thought those full body scanners at the airports were a bit much when it came to privacy? How about having government officials sitting in a van next to you scanning your car as you drive by with the same basic technology, without you even knowing about it? Jay points us to the news that a version of the same backscatter x-ray scanner technology found in airports has also been sold to the US and other governments to mount on vans to scan nearby vehicles to see what's inside. Apparently, the company has sold 500 of these already. Many of them are used in war zones to scan for things like car bombs, but apparently some of them are in use in the US, letting them see views such as the following on nearby vehicles:
Now, I can see the argument for using such a technology in a war zone, but it seems to open a lot of questions concerning how it's used in the US. Is it an illegal search to scan a car without a warrant? A decade ago, the Supreme Court ruled that using thermal imaging to scan someone's house (say, for potential marijuana growing) was a search, and thus subject to the 4th Amendment requirement for a warrant. I find it difficult to believe that a court would find this technology any different -- so the fact that it's already being used in the US makes me wonder if it's only being used with a warrant... or if we should expect to see a lawsuit on this topic soon.
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