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Privacy Security

T-Ray Camera Sees Through Clothes, Preserves Privacy 315

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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  • Preserves privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robably ( 1044462 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @05:45AM (#22698386) Journal long as you redefine privacy to mean exclusively "photographic images of your body", and exclude anything else including the contents of your own pockets. That's a pretty narrow definition of privacy. So narrow, in fact, that it stops being privacy at all.
  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @05:50AM (#22698402)
    The "naught bits" might not be very clear, but a lot of people would be unhappy with security guards looking at images of you like the one shown in this article []. Would you be happy with some guy looking at a picture of your teenage daughter like this?
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:00AM (#22698452) Homepage Journal
    'cause then you'd be able to disguise a weapon of mass destruction as a mere tool of rape.
  • Any deice that attempts to see things you have decided to conceal is a threat to privacy. Just because I choose to conceal something doesn't make me a terrorist, I could be concealing an external bladder bag (or any other kind of medical device), women (and guys, I suppose) may have given themselves some non-surgical "enhancements". There are all sorts of things I may be concealing that are no threat to anyone, but could embarrass me if they were made known to others.

    No, the question here isn't whether this is a threat to privacy or not - it is. The question here should be is it a threat we're prepared to accept. How much of our privacy are we going to give up for a sense of security?
  • by jotok ( 728554 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:08AM (#22698470)
    It's like the "so long as you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear" argument: the definition of "right" is getting so narrow as to be ridiculous.

    To use a networking metaphor...Our model of government is supposed to be one where the government's rights are whitelisted and everything else is by default given to the citizen, but we're moving towards a state where the government is blacklisting OUR actions.

    "Right" and "wrong" have, sadly, never had absolute definitions and have proven to be quite malleable in tyrannies past.
  • Too late... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:14AM (#22698518) Journal
    Planes hijacking using knifes cannot happen again. The 9/11 was a one-time event. Before it, in case of plane hi-jacking, passengers sat quietly, waiting for the hijackers to finish their negotiations. After 9/11, taking back the control of a plane at the risk of getting hurt is the most intelligent course of action. This is what apparently happened on UAF93. Now you can't hijack a plane without anything short of an automatic gun.

    All this craziness about uber-security is just useless, the only risk today is the risk of bombing and it is already hard enough to bring a big engine in the cabin. Bombings are far easier by bringing a car full of explosives into a crowded area...
  • Preserves privacy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:17AM (#22698532)
    How can anybody claim that something that can tell if I'm wearing nipple rings or a Prince Albert, or a variety of medical devices from colostomy bags to artificial breasts "preserves privacy"?
  • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:36AM (#22698616)
    It's like the "so long as you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear" argument: the definition of "right" is getting so narrow as to be ridiculous.

    Yet interestingly I don't see politicans, civil servants, CEO, etc being first in line to tell everyone exactly what they are doing.
  • "Security" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by $pearhead ( 1021201 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:44AM (#22698644)
    Am I the only one wondering, for example, why the hell they're selling glass bottles in the shops past the security check (just smash one of those and you have a potentially deadly weapon) when they won't even let anyone bring their own beverages?
  • Re:Don't be silly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EsbenMoseHansen ( 731150 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:57AM (#22698702) Homepage

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

    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.

    Incidentally, do you know how many terrorist attacks that airport security at check-in have prevented? :)

  • by Eivind ( 15695 ) <> on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:36AM (#22698868) Homepage
    Actually, that'd not bother me at all. (though it'll be a few years before any of my daugthers enter their teenage-years)

    I don't at all get the obsession with body-shape in American culture. Those images give you an idea comparable to what you get on any beach, besides, it's just a human body, most of them are quite similar, there is some minor variations, but really, it's not -that- interesting. People who -do- want to look at nude girls (or boys) have a limitless supply already, and that is perfectly fine.

    It bothers me a lot more that the idiots think they need to know every tiny thing you bring with you, be it a can of Coke, a tube of toothpaste or a key. I can live with the metal-detectors, though frankly I don't approve of even those.

    As for the "airplane as missile" threat, that is trivially handled: Install a locked, secure, cockpit-door, end of story. It's not as if: "Fly the plane into that building, or I'll kill this passenger" will work. (the pilots would just refuse, it makes no sense to kill everyone, including that passenger to prevent the killing of a passenger)

    Besides, I have the same ridicolous restrictions when flying on a 20-seat plane flying say Anda - Bergen, there isn't even a potential target within the RANGE of the airplane. If someone *does* take over the plane, best they could do would be killing everyone aboard, plus a single-digit count of people on the ground if they do their aiming well, frankly, this "threat" does not worry me much.

    Frankly, if your goal in life is to manage to somehow kill 20 people, there are easier ways. Defending against them all ain't worth it, because any marginal increase in security is more than counterbalanced by MASSIVE losses of freedom.

    I'd rather live free and have a 1:1million chance of dying as the result of a terrorist-attack, rather than live in a cage, checked every step of my travels, and have a 1:2million chance of dying as the result of a terrorist-attack, both risks are negligible anyway. (if the adiminstration cared about real risk they should start the "war on diabetes" or "war on traffic" or "war on obesity", all of which kill more people a month than terrorism does a decade)

  • Oblig Star Trek (Score:3, Insightful)

    by itlurksbeneath ( 952654 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:46AM (#22698922) Journal
    After reading TFA and some of the linked material, it came to mind that if a small T-Ray scanner that would fit in ones hand were invented, it'd certianly have most of the capabilities of the tricorder [] from Star Trek. Identify materials, scan tissue for disease, etc. Interesting...
  • Re:Don't be silly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eivind ( 15695 ) <> on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:50AM (#22698930) Homepage
    Really ? Can you show me a source for your claim that *that* is the "official" reason ?

    Sounds downrigth ludicruos to me, and I've never seen that particular claim before.

    First, it's not true that it's hard to make a can that is sealed well enough that no vapors, certainly not enough to cause visible condensation would escape.

    Second, condensation happens on cold surfaces, if the plastic-bag is the same temperature as everything else (I don't see why it wouldn't be) there'd be little condensation even if there *was* a lot of vapor inside the bag.

    Third, there's no prohibition that I've seen on having a ventilated plastic-bag, say one that has lots of holes in it, or even one made of some breathing membrane.

    Not that being ridicolous is any sort of defence offcourse, lots of downrigth silly things happen anyway.
  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:04AM (#22699448)
    I think the key point is that the passengers would not just let it happen. They would have nothing to lose by acting en-mass to overpower the attackers, and the pilots would know this. Before 911 passengers probably thought that if they didn't get involved they would probably be allright - the situation is now reversed.
  • Re:Don't be silly (Score:-1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:17AM (#22699610)
    Yes. That number is zero.

    With the present administration any situation remotely related or that could be described in the broadest terms an attempted terrorist attack would push all other matters off the front page.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:18AM (#22699632) Homepage Journal
    What I'm carrying beneath my clothes is private. My privacy is not limited to just how well Nature has gifted the size and shape of my body's outline.

    This device could be better for some limited security tasks like scanning for weapons at building entrances. But let's not pretend that it's a cureall for invading privacy somehow without invading privacy. If we do. then it'll be in use everywhere, and privacy will be as gone as the emperor's new clothes.
  • I wonder (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ecobady ( 1253790 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:42AM (#22699940)
    how long it takes after this thing is installed before all the attractive women develope cancer
  • Re:Don't be silly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mea37 ( 1201159 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:23AM (#22700632)
    If the bag was sealed at a warmer temperature, or with a humidity level that the current temperature cannot keep in gas form, condensation will occur regardless of whether or not there was anything dangerous in the bag.

    I'd say GP has a point -- the idea that the bag is there so they can see condensation sounds bogus.

    According to the TSA's website, the reason for the bag is to impose an overall limit on the amount of liquid carried by each passenger. (Which as near as anyone seems able to tell is also silly, but that's another matter...)
  • Re:Too late... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ArieKremen ( 733795 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:53AM (#22701214)
    Terrorists generally do not strive to optimize the victim count relative to the assets they invest. Their prime goal is to terrorize people. If 50-60 years, the occasional bomb and maimed bystander was sufficient to get attention and achieve specific political goals, desensitization of the public has "forced" them to increase yield. Also, the motifs of terrorists have evolved over time, if originally they attempted to achieve a localized goal, today those objectives are more amorphous. Radical islamist terrorists do not want to achieve world domination, free Ireland, adoption of Islam as world religion, or liberate Palestine, the goals are .... (I do not really understand the current goals).

    Anyway, terrorists usually do not put efficiency first, it's always the cause and then the means. And the cause is to maximize terror.

  • Re:Don't be silly (Score:-1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2008 @11:32AM (#22701888)

    Incidentally, do you know how many terrorist attacks that airport security at check-in have prevented?
    Simple: zero. You ever see how much preening public officials do when they "catch" someone who "could have" been a threat? As soon as they caught a real terrorist, it would be running on the news 2/47 for weeks.

  • Re:Don't be silly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zibri ( 1063838 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:16PM (#22705004)
    If everybody's armed it wouldn't be easy to hijack the plane, now would it? Maybe something the antiterrorists of today should consider. :)

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.