Could Lead to More Detainments
By Jason Mick (blog) -- July 11, 2012
Have even a trace of gunpowder on you from a shooting range? You may be in for a "deep frisking"
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is tasked with fighting "the war on terror", but of late it has been accused of creating more terror than it prevents, with invasive frisking of childrens’ genital areas and a proclivity for mocking passengers’ bodies sexually behind closed doors. But all that may be but a teaser for what is to come, according to a piece by Gizmodo.
I. Prepare to be Scanned and Detained
The piece details new "molecular scanners" which work something like Big Brother's wildest wet dream, detecting each an every chemical substance on your body.
The scanners are being commercialized by Genia Photonics and employ terrahertz speed laser pulses. The laser hardware is capable of detecting -- even through clothing or windows -- the slightest trace amounts of chemicals on the human body. Genia claims the scanner is ten million times faster and one million times more sensitive than any other scanner -- such as the millimeter wave-based detectors.
Genia writes that the scanner can "penetrate clothing and many other organic materials and offers spectroscopic information, especially for materials that impact safety such as explosives and pharmacological substances."
Thanks to the speed, the DHS is reportedly looking to deploy the scanners secretly at inter-state borders, international borders, and in airports.
The deployment raises some thorny issues, given the scanner's ability to detect such small traces of compounds. For example, smoke a bit of marijuana in a region where it's decriminalized or legal for medical uses, and you may now be arrested by DHS officers at the state border. Alternatively, you might go shooting at the gun range, but the trace amounts of gunpowder left on your clothing might earn you a date with "Mr. Happy Hands" of the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) or DHS.
II. DHS Eyes Plotting Scanners in Shopping Malls and Other Locations
In fact, DHS agents are eyeing the possibility of rolling the devices out all across the country, scanning everyone in any public location possible for signs of suspicion.
In-Q-Tel, the DHS contractor who is subcontracting Genia writes, "an important benefit of Genia Photonics' implementation as compared to existing solutions is that the entire synchronized laser system is comprised in a single, robust and alignment-free unit that may be easily transported for use in many environments… This compact and robust laser has the ability to rapidly sweep wavelengths in any pattern and sequence."
A scan takes only picoseconds and can be performed at distances of up to 50 meters, making it big brother's dream device.
III. Deployment is on Pace for 2013-2014
The creators are confident they can deliver on their objectives of ubiquitous privacy intrusion. Founded by a group of laser and fiber optic Ph.D specialists, Genia is among several Universities and firms worldwide making similar ambitious claims of laser scanners with molecule-level sensitivity.
In Congressional testimony the DHS revealed that deployment was only a year or two away, meaning the devices could start popping up in 2013.
From there, there's no telling how far down the dystopian things could go with molecule scanner. The scanner can sense signs of fear -- such as adrenaline -- even through car windows or in crowded shopping malls. The DHS has already acknowledge publicly experimenting with such "future crime" profiling efforts. In those projects the DHS expressed a desire to detain individuals in public locations who fit certain profiles that indicate they might be ready to commit a crime.
Will anxiety about a big deadline at work lead you to be handcuffed in front of your children at the shopping mall? There's no official word yet on such uses, but the hints are there, and the possibilities are frightening.
Sources: Genia, In-Q-Tel