It will probably be available in one or two years, tells the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a scanner ever seen before, that will know everything about people scanned: substances in the body and clothes, whether there are traces of drugs, explosives or other hazardous chemicals. And all this without having to stop people, without physical contact and, again, probably without their knowledge.
It is something that goes far beyond the matters already raised for satellite tracking and eavesdropping, as those who will use the device, police and governmental investigative agencies, supposedly in the war on terrorism, are going to know many details of scanned people. Moreover, not only suspected people but everybody might be scanned at places like airports, shopping malls, or even the city streets, where police officers will be equipped with this tool.
The company that invented it, Genia Photonics, said that “the device is able to penetrate clothing and provide spectroscopic information of any substance in the human body or objects brought in with him.” Its inventors have already been hired by the In-Q-Tel, to work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The In-Q-Tel is a company founded in 1999 by a group of private citizens on the CIA’s request and with the support of Congress. A sort of bridge between the intelligence agency and the companies that deal with new technologies.
Instruments like this scanner have already been designed in Russia and at the George Washington University. The one invented by Genia Photonics is, however, thousands of times faster and more accurate, even at a greater distance.
Even if this new technology could open new scenarios in the field of medical diagnosis, the questions about how it will be used in other circumstances, such as security of the country, remain. Who can use it? Which limits do they have? Who keeps the obtained data? Where and how long? A problem, that of privacy, which is still open.