Z Portal: Strip Searching Your Car
Backscatter, the technology behind those x-ray-vision airport scanners, is getting rolled out along the US-Mexican border... yes indeed, US Customs will be strip-searching your car.
This is meant to make me feel safe, I guess, but instead it's just creeping me out.
The first Z Portal is being set up at San Ysidro, a port of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border south of San Diego. Anyone who's "referred for a secondary inspection" will drive through a giant car wash that's not really a car wash, but a Z Portal. If you don't trust Customs' assurances no one will see your private piercings, you can actually have a border agent drive it through.
The image produced by backscatter can be so revealing that privacy advocates have called the scanning of passengers at airport security checkpoints an "an electronic strip search."
However, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman said the portal used at the border will be much less revealing. According to the manufacturer, American Science and Engineering, a backscatter image of a person in a car will show "a silhouette with no facial or body detail. The system cannot be used to identify an individual, or the race, sex, or age of the person."