Scanner Vans Allow Drive-By Snooping. X-ray vans that can see through walls–and clothes–hit America’s streets. Nervous yet?
By Andy Greenberg|Forbes.com
Privacy-conscious travelers may cringe to think of the full-body scanners finding their way into dozens of airport checkpoints around the country. Most likely aren’t aware that the same technology, capable of seeing through walls and clothes, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets.
American Science & Engineering ( ASEI – news – people ), a company based in Billerica, Mass., has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter X-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles or cargo containers to snoop into their contents. And while the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the company says law enforcement agencies have also been using them domestically, deploying the roving scanners to search for vehicle-based roadside bombs in American cities. “This product is now the largest-selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever,” says Joseph Reiss, AS&E’s vice president of marketing.