Or should it? You decide…
Imagine you’re walking down the street; you stop at an intersection, waiting to cross. Perhaps it’s the end of your lunch break and you might have been playing a hand of cards with your mates while shooting the breeze. All of a sudden big, black SUVs pull up all around you and men wearing flak jackets, pointing guns – and wearing sunglasses (or in France, balaclavas – I’ve seen them for real) leap out and request none too kindly that you lie down on the pavement with your legs crossed and your hands behind your head. They secure your limbs using plastic ties, put a hood over your head and toss you into one of the vehicles. Next moment they are hurtling off towards the nearest airport where you are put on a classified extreme rendition flight to God Knows Where. Arriving at your holiday destination you spend the next three months being entertained with water sports and asked the same questions over and over again, not ‘is it safe?’, but ‘where are the explosives?’
So what’s happened? Unknown to you, you’ve just stood near a new type of sensor, a ‘Synchronised Programmable Laser’. Its job is to spend 24/7 scanning everyone that passes by for traces of compounds of interest to DHS, the CIA or the NSA. There’s one on every street corner in the world – they are cheap and efficient – It has detected trace amounts of chemicals related to plastic explosives on your hands. Why? Because the cards you were using get their resilience and stiffness from such a chemical.
Of course the story I’ve just related is not true; having said that it is a melding of two or three stories that could potentially become your worst nightmare. The technology is real and is likely to come to an airport near you soon. The capability is already there but this one performs ‘ten million times faster’ than anything we use currently.
A lot of you might say that such technology would make us safer. Yes, it probably would. It would also cut queues as you can be scanned at any time as you walk towards your flight gate. I would vote for that, especially as it would almost certainly detect those unfortunate women who have explosive breast augmentations donated by our friends Al Qaeda.
So why should we be scared? Because it can take and analyse samples in gaseous form from a living tissue, working out whether you smoked a spliff yesterday, took ecstasy, or are intoxicated (of course, you might be taking throat medicine that contains alcohol, but it couldn’t differentiate). As an absolute analysis mechanism, legal decisions can be made from its results. The story I related above is not far-fetched at all. The card players were the Guildford Four and more than one person has taken a ride at our various governments’ pleasure without being charged – all the new anti-terrorism laws have ensured this is a real possibility.
There are positives to every negative. It can analyse tumours instantly to assess how lethal they are. It can also detect drugs, ending long drawn out testing on those suspected of driving under the influence – perhaps finally reducing this risk.
Instant analysis of individuals could also detect those changes associated with zombie-ism, giving us an early warning system – lethargy, the blank stare, unsteady on legs, voracious appetite. Oh, no. Wait, that’s just me Saturday morning after the night before. Oh God! I’m doomed L
Check out more of my blogs on http://www.david-k-roberts.com
Inspiration was from http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/07/13/hidden-government-scanners/