Privacy Has Ended — Some concerned with the erosion of privacy direct their ire at Google Maps’ “street view “. Others say full-body scanners at airports are the best herald of an Orwellian future.
Well, American Science & Engineering of Billerica, Mass. has combined the best of both fears into a nondescript vehicle called the Z Backscatter Van or ZBV.
A ZBV travels streets and parking lots in anonymity using a narrow stream of x-rays to reveal and record the interiors of cars, containers and buildings.
And yes, they will reveal what’s beneath a person’s clothing.
You won’t find these mobile X-ray Specs in the back of a comic book, though. Their cost is $850,000. Five hundred of them having been sold since 2003, most to the Department of Defense which has used them to foil roadside bomb attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Foreign governments have also bought them, however, as have domestic law enforcement agencies, which has used them for border control and security matters.
The New York City Police Department is among the agencies confirmed to have adopted this technology.
American Science & Engineering Marketing Vice President Joseph Reiss told Forbes magazine that their product is the “largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever.”
Channel 6 Where Are You? — Those using an antenna for television might be wondering whatever happened to WPVI-Channel 6 when broadcasting went digital on June 11, 2009.
WPVI is owned by ABC.
Channel 6 is Philadelphia’s second-oldest station behind the CBS-owned KYW- Channel 3 and has been broadcasting since 1947. The low VHF channels were once the prime real estate for broadcasting. These frequencies, however, require large antennae or antennae with amplifiers for good reception and are susceptible to interference from sources such as FM radio stations.
And the strong FM signals being sent by the WXPN 88.5, WRTI 90.1 and WHYY 90.9 which are co-located on a tower in Roxborough are getting in the way of the WPVI signal.
The FCC gave WPVI permission to boost its power two weeks ago from 7.5 kilowatts to 30.6 kilowatts which is the maximum allowed in the Northeast.
As of today, however, it is still not being received in central Springfield.
Super Secret Space Plane Mission — The super secret X-37B robot space plane is being used to develop spy satellites a group of amateur skywatchers have deduced. The space plane had its historic inaugural launch without fanfare on April 22, 2010 from Cape Canaveral and there was much speculation that it was designed to herald a new reign of space weapons.
The skywatchers, however, have been tracking the plane and have determined that it is following the pattern of a spy satellite. It is orbiting the planet every 90 minutes at an altitude of 225 miles.
Of course science fiction fans might wonder why some might not think it useful to put weapons on spy satellites.
Mechanical Failure Reportedly Not Cause Of Osprey Crash — The April 8 Bell Boeing CV-22 Osprey crash in Afghanistan was apparently not due to mechanical failure according the aviation website FlightGlobal.Com.
The crash occurred as the craft was landing in a wadi around 1 a.m. under brown-out conditions.
Killed were the pilot, a flight engineer, an army Ranger and a civilian. Others were injured.
The military has ruled out enemy fire.
The Osprey’s fuselage, cockpit,avionics, and flight controls are built at the Boeing Helicopter plant in Ridley Park with the rest of the machine being built by Bell Helicopter in Texas.
Mechanical Failure Reportedly Not Cause Of Osprey Crash
Lower Merion Spied On Students Via Laptop — A federal class action lawsuit was filed Feb. 16 alleging that Lower Merion School District used the webcams in the laptops distributed to students to spy on them in their homes.
The suit was filed by Michael E. and Holly S. Robbins on behalf of their son Blake, a student at Harriton High School, and the 1,800 or so other students at Harriton and Lower Merion, the district’s other high school.
The suit seeks damages caused by school district’s alleged invasion of privacy, theft of private information, and unlawful interception of electronic communications, and alleges the district broke numerous state and federal laws including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act, along with the defendants’ Fourth Amendment Rights.
Lower Merion distributed the laptops to each high school student. Unbeknown to the students and the parents, the school district had the ability to remotely, and at anytime, activate the embedded webcam capturing the images in front of the camera.
The Robbins learned about this ability Nov. 9 when Harriton Assistant Principal Lindy Matsko told them that Blake was engaged in improper behavior in his home and presented as evidence a photograph taken via the webcam from the laptop the school gave Blake.
The suit doesn’t say what exactly Blake was doing but whatever it was it was not as bad as public officials stomping over duly passed laws.
The case is being handled by the law firm of Lamm Rubenstone LLC of Trevose, Pa. They can be reached at 1-215-638-9330. They were contacted and confirmed the filing of the suit.