Scanning Technology and Internet Privacy

American Science and Engineering Inc (ASEI) has adapted the fully-body scanning technology (which is causing controversy at the airports), and given it wheels. Having already sold 500 vans, the “scan-van” is reported to be able to see into cars, houses, and anything else that isn’t coated in lead. While the potential positives of such technology are apparent, such as detecting bombs, people smuggling, or other illegal materials, many are concerned over the possible abuses that could arise. Wealth Daily, who discusses the technology, seems to adopt the “I don’t care as long as I can make money” attitude common amongst many Americans. And although some suggest that those who have done nothing wrong have nothing to fear from such possible infringements of privacy, can Americans afford to be apathetic to technology being misused by a potentially parental State ?

A similar technology to ASEI’s scan van is being tested in Finland, and is expected to be deployed across Europe from 2013. Called “Asset” (Advanced Safety and Driver Support for Essential Road Transport) this speed camera has numerous instruments which can check license plates, spot tailgating, and take pictures to see if a driver is wearing their seatbelt. In addition, it can make sure the vehicle’s insurances and taxes are up-to-date. In Europe, much like in America, there are those who are concerned about this new technology being used responsibly. But, as the Daily Mail notes out of UK, “One of the first counties in the country to switch off its speed cameras, is to turn them back on again – after speeding soared.”

But, where government has been surprisingly quick to adopt technology for “protection and safety”, there’s plenty of other cases where its reacted with feet-dragging and cherry-picking towards protecting the rights of people. With Senate Democrats supporting the TSA’s intrusive, anything-but-private strip/scan searches being implemented in airports, some have wondered if their about-face in advocating internet privacy is merely political game-playing. As the Obama administration has created a task force (led by Cameron Kerry and Christopher Schroeder) towards internet privacy, Senator Claire McCaskill (Missouri) basically calls Americans ignorant by stating that the controversy towards TSA privacy issues is about education. If more American learned about the TSA’s procedures, they wouldn’t have a problem (Read more at CNET). Although prior administrations, as mentioned by the Wall Street Journal, have reportedly steered away from Internet regulations out of concern for stifling innovation, the Obama administration is possibly hoping for a comprehensive U.S. law that will protect consumer’s irresponsible actions online. True, there are companies out there who don’t really have our best interests at heart – just as sometimes there are governments who do the same. But when we have elected officials who think we need protecting from ourselves, and are incapable of knowing what’s best for our families, then privacy truly becomes something we can’t turn a blind eye towards!

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One Response to Scanning Technology and Internet Privacy

  1. What governments want, they will force it on the people, irrespective of the desires of people

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