|Using the Z Backscatter Van, officials detected drugs hidden in the body of this pickup truck|
As an antiterror measure, the US government has deployed mobile X-ray technology to randomly scan cars and trucks. But the measure is riling privacy proponents.
But news that the US is buying custom-made vans packed with something called backscatter X-ray capacity has riled privacy advocates and sparked internet worries about "feds radiating Americans."
"This really trips up the creep factor because it's one of those things that you sort of intrinsically think the government shouldn't be doing," says Vermont-based privacy expert Frederick Lane, author of "American Privacy." "But, legally, the issue is the boundary between the government's legitimate security interest and privacy expectations we enjoy in our cars."
The mobile X-ray technology works by bouncing narrow X-ray streams off an object like a car and then analyzing the scatter rate of the returning rays. Operators can then locate less-dense objects that could be bodies or bombs.