Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Airports aren't the only place to find companies selling X-ray scanners

Airports aren't the only place to find companies selling X-ray scanners | Center for Investigative Reporting

While debate continues in the United States over whether whole-body imagers now being used at airports to detect weapons violate privacy rights and even create potential health risks, manufacturers of the technology are opening deeper opportunities for themselves elsewhere that could make the controversial machines an even bigger part of everyday life.

A Massachusetts-based company claims that government agencies here and abroad have purchased hundreds of its van-mounted X-ray devices that reveal the contents of passing vehicles without authorities relying on a manual search to find human stowaways, secret compartments full of narcotics or bomb ingredients.

An executive of American Science & Engineering told Forbes privacy writer Andy Greenberg late last month that the X-ray scanners are most popular with the Defense Department, a fact borne out by federal contracting data. Troops face insurgent bomb architects in Iraq and Afghanistan capable of stymieing the world’s most powerful armed forces with crude, MacGyver-style explosives, so vehicle X-ray technology in a place like Baghdad makes sense.

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