The Privacy War Just Got Biological
Posted on Jul 11, 2012
In as little as one year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will have a mobile, long-range, laser-based molecular scanner that can identify any chemical substance in or on your body—including gunpowder, flecks of cocaine on your sleeve and the half-digested Pop-Tart in your gut.
Officials say the technology will be used to identify explosives, dangerous chemicals or bioweapons at airports, border crossings and other high traffic locations throughout the United States.
The device is 1 million times faster than its predecessor, which means authorities will be able to collect and store “molecular tags” on huge numbers of people at a time—not just suspects or people who are randomly selected—and they will be able to do so without the knowledge of those who are targeted.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly
There has so far been no discussion about the personal rights and privacy issues involved. Which “molecular tags” will they be scanning for? Who determines them? What are the threshold levels of this scanning? If you unknowingly stepped on the butt of someone’s joint and are carrying a sugar-sized grain of cannabis like that unfortunate traveler currently in jail in Dubai, will you be arrested?
And, since it’s extremely portable, will this technology extend beyone the airport or border crossings and into police cars, with officers looking for people on the street with increased levels of adrenaline in their system to detain in order to prevent potential violent outbursts? And will your car be scanned at stoplights for any trace amounts of suspicious substances? Would all this information be recorded anywhere?
net_efekt (CC BY 2.0)