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Privacy Security

T-Ray Camera Sees Through Clothes, Preserves Privacy 315

Posted by kdawson
from the so-they-say dept.
Quite a few readers are sending in stories about ThruVision's products, slated to be demonstrated in Britain next week, that are claimed to use Terahertz radiation ("T-rays") to detect foreign objects under clothing, without revealing body details, from a distance of 25 meters and while the subject is in motion. T-rays lie on the electromagnetic spectrum between infrared and microwaves, and are the subject of lively research efforts worldwide. ThruVision says it developed its products in cooperation with the European Space Agency.
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T-Ray Camera Sees Through Clothes, Preserves Privacy

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  • So.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2008 @05:44AM (#22698370)
    .... it detects foreign objects? a tampon? or only objects RIGHT under clothes? Cause we all seen news of drugs hidden inside human orifices.
  • Re:Don't be silly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mike89 (1006497) on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:45AM (#22698652)

    Stupid things getting confiscated happens a lot.
    Heh, just over 10 years ago (when I was ~8), I went on a plane with two pairs of scissors on my pencil case (in Australia). They were allowed on, but for safety reasons they gave them to Mum before we boarded... How times have changed!
  • Re:Don't be silly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:59AM (#22698710)
    I can top that :)

    20 Years ago I went on a plane with DYNAMITE baby!

    I was a kid, and all I wanted to do was to get some M80's and M160's back to my school for some good harmless fun. I stuck it in my desktop computer (no really), in a bag between the hard drives and the floppy disk where there was still 2x5 1/4 bays.

    I figured what is the worst they could do to a 12 year old?

    Of course.. now as an adult I realize that putting about 2 dozen firecrackers into the overhead compartment was just a little unwise.
  • Re:Too late... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:20AM (#22698804)

    Once the error rate for these programs gets over the error rates for humans, I feel a lot of this technology can be brought in more places, with less loss of privacy.


    Man you are missing something here and it is HUGE. What about BOFA, Bastard Operator From Hell?

    Somebody has to administrate and perform maintenance on that equipment. Every single surveillance system ever created has been abused in this way. Not just those systems either. Businesses that deal with anything that is expected to be private like developing photographs, medical records, etc.

    Assuming that the interface is that restricted, it would help eliminate the embarrassment of looking the person in the eye. I will give you that. It does not however eliminate the loss of privacy by any stretch of the imagination, it only shifts it someplace else.

    There is a case in the news right now where a private detective in California is being charged for invading the privacy of celebrities by bribing and coercing the employees responsible for safe guarding this private data. This is where I get the BOFA's. People who are responsible and put in a position of trust that end up abusing people horribly.

    No, I'm sorry. The only solution is to stubbornly, and I do mean to the death, fight for our privacy tooth and nail. Never agree with, nor participate with any such system that eliminates your privacy in this way.

    Do they have a right to try to make me walk through one? Sure. Do I have a right to where lead lined clothing going through the airport? Absolutely.
  • Something that just occurred to me is a different use for this technology (assuming it's safe, and depending on the range).

    What about using it in military outposts (especially in areas where suicide bombers are prevalent) to check people approaching. Much less of a privacy concern there, and much more useful too. Possibly create a vehicle mounted system that could go out to investigate suspicious people loitering around the area or even approaching the gates.
  • by mbone (558574) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:40AM (#22698882)
    These devices use sub mm wavelengths, which means that they would be stopped by metallic meshes with a mesh size of 0.1 mm or so.
    (I have seen women's party dresses with meshes like this).

    So, what if I wear a metallic mesh shirt or coat ? Or pants ? So much for the T5000.

    BTW, has any physicist ever used the term "T rays" ? What dumb-ass marketing guy thought that up ?
  • Re:Preserves privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:41AM (#22698896) Homepage
    Indeed. Some of us have the oposite priority even.

    I don't particularily care very much if someone gets a glimpse of me naked somehow. I look like an average 32 year old male, if that's someones particular thing, more power to them.

    I -DO- however strongly oppose massive registers being maintained about my every movement, with name and address, class I'm flying, how and when I paid for my ticket, if it's a return or single, where I booked it, how many pieces of luggage I checked in, who I'm traveling with, who I phoned the last 2 years and for how long we chatted, and and and and....

    Everything stored and collected in massive secret government-databases to be used for screening for "terrorists".

    What happened to presumption of innocense ? Since when is it okay to collect data on EVERYONE because SOME may be guilty ?
  • Re:Don't be silly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday March 10, 2008 @08:47AM (#22699296) Homepage Journal

    The argument is that the liquids they are afraid of are volatile and hard to contain in cans, and thus you would see condensation on the inside of the bag.
    Not all liquid explosives are volatile, but it helps. Anything with enough nitrogen content is able to be turned into an explosive, it's just a matter of how much work is involved for each compound.

    That being said, suffice it to say that I managed to get a can of lighter fluid on a plane, even after they put the restrictions on liquids in place. And I wasn't even trying to get it on the plane, it was just in a bag I was carrying and I didn't even think about. But apparently, it was missed by the screeners who were far more interested in stealing my bottles of Pantene and my can of Axe.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday March 10, 2008 @08:51AM (#22699346)

    That you can avoid all the insane inconveniences of airports and aeroplanes by travelling on a train.

    Unless you're going on a train that stops at an airport, such as the Paddington to Heathrow service, where similar digital strip-search scanners were already trialled two years ago.

  • by badzilla (50355) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {lw3kartlu}> on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:31AM (#22699790)
    See if our emperors actually do have any clothes.
  • by Dominic (3849) on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:51AM (#22700122) Homepage
    You know, I don't really care. Exposure to this sort of thing all day would make them immune to it. Do you worry every time your 'teenage daughter' goes to the doctor? This weird sort of prudery seems to be very American - I don't think anyone here in Europe is really that bothered.
  • Silly == affordable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hey! (33014) on Monday March 10, 2008 @12:57PM (#22703368) Homepage Journal

    don't see how a plastic bag makes make-up less dangerous though

    Actually there is a good reason for the plastic bag.

    The plastic bag is used as a quick way to confirm that the passenger is bringing on less than a certain total volume of liquids. You are allowed a single one quart bag, therefore it is obvious at a glance that you are carrying on considerably less than a quart of liquids or gel.

    It's not a foolproof way to keep terrorists from assembling a liquid bomb on board. It just means you need a larger number of suicide bombers at a go. If you reckon that you're most concerned with bombs made from a gallon or so, you theoretically could face four terrorists with quart bags stuffed to the gills with flexible 3 fl oz sachets of explosive gel. However it's pretty certain they'd attract attention. With "normal" payloads of toothpaste and and aftershave, you might need a lot more than four conspirators.

    This points out another aspect of the "mindless" security procedures. "Mindless" has its obvious disadvantages, as in the case of the elderly lady I once saw having her mascara confiscated, as if a couple cc of liquid was a deadly threat. On the other hand, the screeners are supposed to recognize that this is fifth or six guy they've checked in with a baggie stuffed full of trial size after shaves. Attention and judgment, like anything else, is a limited commodity, and it's not to be wasted on granting exceptions -- even reasonable exceptions -- to the rules. In fact, in a busy check-in, it's not really appropriate to chat up the screeners, much less engage them in a debate about whether the rules ought to apply to your mascara. It's not that you aren't right, it's that society can't afford to hire enough screeners to debate whether the rules should not apply to individual things.

    The place to debate this is where the rules are made, not where they are applied. In fact, rules tend to start out more inflexible than they need to be, because more flexible rules are more complex and have more borderline cases that could result in checkpoint debates.

    It comes down, in the end, to economics, and that's what people miss when they get frustrated by the absurdity of the rules. The point of the rules is to keep flying cheap as much as it is to keep it safe. That's the trade-off. Sure, we could dispense with the 3 fl oz container in a baggie rule and be just as safe,but we'd be paying somebody to open up that sixteen ounce bottle of pantene and sniff it. Sure, we could allow a half empty six fl oz bottle in the baggie, but then we'd have to pay the screener to eyeball it, and then argue with the passenger whether it's more than half empty or not.

    I don't buy the "focusing on many things" argument. It's really the number of parameters the screener must handle. The early version of the liquids rule was "no liquids at all"; logically, the class of banned items was larger, but the screener had only a single question to answer: is it liquid? For the convenience of the passengers, we now allow 3 fl oz bottles, and it's the relaxation of the rule that makes the inspection more complex. Taken to its extreme, the rule becomes simply, "don't let anything on the plane that might be dangerous." That rule goes without saying, but it's not an easy one to apply. Your anecdote of getting something through in your jacket doesn't prove anything, other than that things get through, which of course is true. It was true when the rules were much simpler, as on 9/11 when the box cutters didn't trigger anybody's suspicion.

    The truth is, if you wanted inspections to be more effective and cheaper, you'd just get tougher on the passengers. If they've got a 4 fl oz bottle, it goes right in the trash; if they argue, you assume they are creating a diversion and you give them and their companions a thorough inspection, even if it slows the line to a halt. Eventually, people would lea

  • Re:Preserves privacy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by robably (1044462) on Monday March 10, 2008 @01:50PM (#22704494) Journal

    the screeners looking at the output from these systems are separated physically from the location where the passengers are being scanned. They do not have visual/optical access to the individuals, only the monitor on which the processed image/video is displayed.
    It mentions that at the end of the article, but that isn't privacy - it's just temporary anonymity, and as soon as something out of the ordinary pops up that anonymity goes as well. There has to be some connection between the "physically separated" screener and a person at the scanner otherwise the system wouldn't work, and even if there was no connection at all it still wouldn't be privacy. If a stranger is watching you you do not have privacy, it's irrelevant how remote they are.

    The big problem is that almost all passengers allows themselves to be fingerprinted, scanned, and recorded. If nobody put up with it, if everyone traveled another way when faced with these restrictions, then the system could never be enforced because the airlines would lose money hand over fist. They would only have to be boycotted for a week for it to hit them in the pocket, hardly an inconvenience for passengers. But the amount of people with conviction enough to boycott them is insignificant, unfortunately.
  • Re:Don't be silly (Score:1, Interesting)

    by capnchicken (664317) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:29PM (#22706326)
    I think they did that right up until September 11th. I got my tour on a flight with the family out to California, although that was about 15-20 years ago too, damn I'm getting old.
  • Re:Don't be silly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MConlon (246624) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:17PM (#22709686)
    On September 10, 2001 I went through Heathrow (coming back to NA from Europe) with both a Swiss Army knife and a smaller penknife in my jacket pocket. The jacket went through the x-ray machine.

    The next day I slept in (jet-lagged) and woke up to discover the world had changed for the worse. :(

    MJC

"We are on the verge: Today our program proved Fermat's next-to-last theorem." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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