The controversy over the full body scanners at airports hasn’t even died down yet and they are starting to be used in vans roving around US streets. According to Forbes, “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.”
The Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs, as the company calls them, bounce a narrow stream of x-rays off and through nearby objects, and read which ones come back. Absorbed rays indicate dense material such as steel. Scattered rays indicate less-dense objects that can include explosives, drugs, or human bodies. That capability makes them powerful tools for security, law enforcement, and border control.
“It’s no surprise that goverments and vendors are very enthusiastic about [the vans],” says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC. “But from a privacy perspective, it’s one of the most intrusive technologies conceivable.”
It’s no surprise that law enforcement are so happy about these vans. They can infringe on your privacy without you even knowing about it. AS&E claims that there isn’t a need to worry about these vans because they don’t see as well as the airport scanners. They are attempting to deflect privacy advocates from the fact that these vans still violate a person’s privacy and their fourth amendment rights. Unlike the airports and the TSA, AS&E freely admit that these scanners can save the pictures that it takes.