Over the past decade, we have come to accept increasingly invasive security measures as the norm at our nation's airports; yet as technological advancements continue to outpace public condemnation, progressively more alarming measures are poised to take hold. The latest such incarnation comes in the form of laser scanners, expected to reach airports nationwide as early as 2013.
Capable of surveying travelers at a molecular level from over 160-feet-away, these lasers are soon to succeed full body scanners as the most insidious security measure on the books. Operating in real time, the Picosecond Programmable Laser can determine everything about you--from adrenaline levels in your body to traces of gun powder or drugs on a person's clothes--without an agent ever touching you..
And while proponents of the system herald it as a less invasive alternative to pat-downs and strip searches, the unknowns of such a powerful device draw grave concerns.
Will the data collected be stored and compiled as with the FBI's Next Generation Identification Initiative? What levels of drug residue will permit intervention and would evidence of gunshot residue be admissible in court? Will this technology be limited to airports and boarder-crossings, or will it be made available to police departments even private companies? And what does this mean for privacy in the future?
As In-Q-Tel, a private company created in venture with the CIA, prepares to launch their product on a major scale, we can expect to see shorter lines and fewer civil liberties coming to an airport near you.