I considered a Great Debate about this, just to see what people would say, but then I realized, I’m not sure what my position is and I’m probably not the best person to start a potential “argument.”
Okay, so I had a job interview yesterday with a company (I suppose I can mention the name, it’s American Science and Engineering) that makes X-ray type security devices. Some of the things they make are rather typical looking machines like you walk through at the airport. They also make the one that’s been in the news that scans an entire body in order to view what’s under clothing…some people really don’t want airport employees seeing them naked, so they’re up in arms. Go figure.
They also make larger contraptions that scan semi trucks and train cars. The devices look for everything from organic material (read: drugs and bombs) to weapons. Please see the Mercedes of Invasion here: http://www.as-e.com/products_solutions/zbv.asp
Anyway, the interviewer asked me if I noticed the white box trucks driving around. “Oh yeah,” says I, “The big benz I just passed!”
He then went on to explain that if I had any weed in my car (which was parked in the parking lot) the truck drivers would be in soon to arrest me. Apparently, they actually have trucks that drive around and detect (within a certain range) drugs, weapons, and bomb-making materials.
I don’t do drugs, though, there was a half finished coffee in my car and maybe that tipped them off. At least they didn’t arrest me. If I did do drugs, I wouldn’t put them in my vehicle and drive off to an interview with a security company.
So, I don’t know what I think about phantom trucks driving around certain neighborhoods (presumably only lower-income neighborhoods, thus making the technology unfairly applied) and arresting everyone within a 30 mile radius who may have contraband somewhere in their vicinity.
What if I’m trying to smuggle cousin Bob into the drive in? What if my loose leaf tea is mistaken for marijuana? What if I’m a farmer with a load of fertilizer? Just seems to be a lot of potential for abuse here and very few rules about how it can be applied. Illegal search and seizure anyone?
On the one hand, sure, you’re not supposed to have bombs and drugs in your posessions. Fair enough. On the other hand…err…don’t we have laws about probable cause? A fair expectation of privacy? If they can detect illegal drugs surely there’s the potential to detect other things that are none of anyone’s business?
Hmm…maybe this is a debate. Please move if you see fit…I swear I won’t be offended.