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Full-Body Scanners Deployed In Street-Roving Vans 312

Posted by timothy
from the this-slope-sure-feels-slippery dept.
pickens writes "Forbes reports that the same technology used at airport check points, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on US streets where law enforcement agencies have deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs. 'It's no surprise that governments and vendors are very enthusiastic about [the vans],' says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. 'But from a privacy perspective, it's one of the most intrusive technologies conceivable.' Rotenberg adds that the scans, like those in the airport, potentially violate the fourth amendment. 'Without a warrant, the government doesn't have a right to peer beneath your clothes without probable cause,' Rotenberg says. 'If the scans can only be used in exceptional cases in airports, the idea that they can be used routinely on city streets is a very hard argument to make.'"
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Full-Body Scanners Deployed In Street-Roving Vans

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  • by crankyspice (63953) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @02:27PM (#33404462)

    I wonder what they will change. The amendment or make the use of these illegal.

    I'm reasonably sure this is already prohibited by the 4th Amendment, as interpreted by SCOTUS. In Kyllo v. U.S. [], the Court held: "obtaining by senseenhancing technology any information regarding the interior of the home that could not otherwise have been obtained without physical "intrusion into a constitutionally protected area," constitutes a search-- at least where (as here) the technology in question is not in general public use." (A discussion of how the protection of a car differs from a house, legally, is beyond the scope of this post ;) but suffice to say there are at least some areas of the car and the person that are constitutionally protected...)

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @02:30PM (#33404486)
    This falls under their powers to regulate Interstate Commerce, just like everything.

    You might have something hidden on your person with the intent to cross state lines and then sell it. Obviously they have to scan you, me, and everyone. Kids too. Especially little boys.
  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Informative)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @02:41PM (#33404552)

    Hydrogen, Carbon and Nitrogen are common components in high explosives.

    Likewise in people, plants, that sort of thing....

  • by davmoo (63521) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @03:17PM (#33404740)

    SCOTUS ruled several years ago (and I'm too lazy to get a link to the ruling right now) that law enforcement could not use things like infrared and thermal imaging of a house to detect pot-growing operations without a warrant. Their ruling was something to the effect of "If a person can't see it from the street without using fancy equipment, it needs a warrant".

    This is obviously different technology, but I fail to see how this would be any different in the eyes of SCOTUS and that ruling.

  • Re:Ok, honestly? (Score:1, Informative)

    by beaker8000 (1815376) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @04:29PM (#33405128)
    Dude, it's 'incite' not 'insight'.
  • by rhook (943951) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @04:49PM (#33405222)

    The founding fathers never intended the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution to give the federal government the kind of power that it now uses the Commerce Clause as justification for. The whole point of the clause was to ensure that the states would be able to trade freely with one another and to ensure that the federal government could initiate trade with other countries and to allow the Indian tribes to have free trade with the states and federal government. The act does not say anything about allowing the federal government to regulate trade within a states borders, or interfere in people private lives (drug war, indecency laws, educational standards, minimum drinking age, etc). It is the sole basis of the federal governments claimed power to declare the war on drugs (a failed war that will never end), nobody seems to remember that alcohol prohibition took a constitutional amendment to begin and to end. []

    Article I, Section 8, Clause 3:
    “ [The Congress shall have power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes; ”

    The Commerce Clause Power is often amplified by the Necessary and Proper Clause which states this Commerce Clause power, and all of the other enumerated powers, may be implemented by the power "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." The Necessary and Proper Clause is the final clause of Article I, section 8. It must be noted, however, that the Constitution is more clear about the role of the Congress vis-a-vis interstate commerce in Article I, Section 9, Clauses 1, 5 and 6, though the interpretation of Section 8 and Section 9 could depend on the circumstances presented by specific cases-

  • by crankyspice (63953) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @05:01PM (#33405268)

    Refuse to open your trunk or glove box and see what happens. Refusal is a tacit admission of guilt and therefore is grounds for a search warrant.

    Um, simply, no. At least with respect to the truck (since the glove box is within the 'wingspan' of the vehicle's occupant(s), it's been given different treatment). Speaking not just as a lawyer (although predominantly civil, I've handled criminal matters), but as a citizen who has encountered the police under such circumstances and has many good friends in law enforcement (I was the only member of a recent wedding party *not* wearing an ankle holster; bunch of G-Men...)...

    ". . . [A]ny reasonable officer would recognize that, under clearly established law, Freeman's refusal to consent to a warrantless search . . . could neither itself justify an arrest nor create probable cause . . ." Freeman v. Gore, 483 F.3d 404, 416 (5th Cir. Tex. 2007) (citing to SCOTUS, Steagald v. United States, 451 U.S. 204, 213-214 (1981)).

    Graves v. City of Coeur D'Alene, 339 F.3d 828, 842 (9th Cir. 2003): "[R]efus[al] to consent to search cannot be used to establish probable cause."

    "It is well [**6] established that a refusal to consent to a search cannot be the basis for a finding of reasonable suspicion. Karnes v. Skrutski, 62 F.3d 485, 495-96 (3d Cir. 1995). In United States v. Williams, the court recognized that an officer's consideration of a defendant's refusal to consent to a search would violate the Fourth Amendment. 271 F.3d 1262, 1268 (10th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 535 U.S. 1019, 122 S. Ct. 1610, 152 L. Ed. 2d 624 (2002)." United States v. Leal, 235 Fed. Appx. 937, 939 (3d Cir. Pa. 2007)


  • Re:not only that (Score:5, Informative)

    by lgw (121541) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @05:06PM (#33405288) Journal

    There is no minimun safe threshhold for ionizing radiation. The danger is cumulative across your lifetime. Radiation-related workplace safety regulations all take this into account. Some of the full-body scanners for airports use microwaves instead of X-rays, and so don't have this concern (though there may still be cause for concern).

    This isn't some debatable area where there's no good evidence, but more reasearch might be helpful, like cell phone radiation. The effects of ionizing radiation is well-studied, and never safe at any level. There's a reason the dental technician leaves the room when she takes your dental X-rays, you know.

  • by antonymous (828776) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @06:08PM (#33405572)
    The case was Kyllo v. United States [] - the ruling was that use of a thermal imaging device is considered a "search."
  • by GrumblyStuff (870046) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @06:22PM (#33405678)

    There may be a problem with that. I suggest reading up on the Chandra X-Ray Telescope []. Long story short, because of the high energy, only shallow angles are used so the mirror in the telescope is more like a barrel.

  • Re:A bad idea... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wolvenhaven (1521217) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @01:03AM (#33407244) Homepage
    Rig up one of these on a rotating platform with an x-ray detector and you can fry the whole car. []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 29, 2010 @05:38AM (#33407912)

    I'm a specialist engineer who worked on x-ray optics. Unfortunately, x-rays only reflect very weakly at anything other than grazing incidence. So a corner cube will give some signal, but not enough to destroy the equipment. Sorry, but I would advise against trying to thwart x-ray detectors by using corner cubes.

  • by herojig (1625143) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @11:12AM (#33408866) Homepage
    You want this then: []. Pretty impressive.

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