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Taser Bracelets? Really?

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August 1, 2008

Earlier in the month, the Washington Times published a story about the EMD bracelet that the TSA supposedly expressed interest in deploying for every air traveler to wear. The pros to wearing this bracelet: speeding through security, as the bracelet would contain all of your flight info and personal information, and have GPS-like capability that would be able to track both you and your luggage. Nifty! Even more surveillance when you travel!

But the con is a mighty big one: EMD stands for “electro-muscular disruption.” See, that bracelet would have the ability to immobilize a person for several minutes via a shock delivered by a flight attendant or air marshal. The reasoning behind this: if there’s a hijacking situation onboard the plane, and the terrorist conveniently had not yet taken off the bracelet, the terrorist would be instantly immobilized via bracelet, his nefarious plan thwarted. Easy-breezy.

Now you’re thinking: “Whaaat? They can’t be serious.” There is some dispute over whether the TSA was actually considering this. On the TSA blog, they flat-out deny it. But CBS insists they were, and points to two letters, authenticated by a TSA spokesman, from a TSA official to the bracelet’s R&D firm, expressing interest in the bracelet.

But is it really so far-fetched? The security agencies have already shown a complete willingness to wiretap our conversations, taking away our fundamental right to privacy, and thus controlling what we say. Physical control of Americans would be the next logical step.

In any case, as Jay Stanley of our Technology and Liberty Project puts it:

This bracelet idea is the logical culmination of the impulse behind many security policies, which is to place everyone under the complete control of the authorities. The bracelet concept is to control what the concept of “Big Brother” is to surveillance.

And here’s what former TSA employee and air marshal Jeffrey Denning told CBS when asked if he thought the TSA was really considering using the bracelets for all air passengers:

“At first I think “No!” Denning answered. “But then again I worked for three years for the TSA…and I’ve seen some outrageous things. So I wouldn’t put it past them,” Denning said.

Shocking, ain’t it?