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Captured at

The All-Seeing EM Wave

by Charles Overbeck

There's a new weapon in the arsenal of those who believe safety is more important than freedom.

The Associated Press reported recently that Millimetrix Corp. has developed a device called the "Passive Millimeter Wave Imager." The device uses electromagnetic waves emitted by human flesh to detect concealed weapons, plastic explosives, or drugs underneath a citizen's clothing. These materials block waves emitted by a human body, enabling police to "see" weapons or banned materials.

National Institute of Justice awarded $2.1 million in 1995 to three companies to develop weapon detectors for airports, stores, and public buildings. The Clinton Administration has spent millions to adapt technology which was originally developed for military use and apply it to "anti-terrorism" countermeasures in the civilian world. The Passive Millimeter Wave Imager is one high-tech result of that funding.

The larger version of the device, about the size of a shoe box, can be mounted on a patrol car, displaying the image on a monitor inside the vehicle. The smaller, battery-operated version is handheld, like a radar gun.

Plans to test the device on the streets are in full swing, despite the serious constitutional issues of illegal search and seizure. Police must have reasonable suspicion to justify frisking a subject; the Millimetrix device is designed for efficient mass surveillance. A police officer can aim the handheld unit into a crowd up to 90 feet away.

The device can even be used outside a room to scan individuals inside. But don't worry--Millimetrix points out that although the imager can see through clothing, it still leaves citizens "some privacy" and "does not reveal intimate anatomical details of the person."

Caught in the Net welcomes interesting flotsam culled by its readers. Send e-mail to NetFishing@chireader. com.

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