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Thu, Jul 10, 2008

Report: DHS Entertains Idea Of Immobilizing Bracelets For Airline Passengers

Just Wait Until You Read The Distributor's Explanation...

The idea is something out of Orwell's 1984: requiring all airline passengers to wear identifying bracelets, containing personal information and a GPS tracking chip to monitor their movements. And, oh yeah, one more thing: any flight crew member would be able to immobilize wearers by simply pointing a laser device in their general direction.

And, yes, it's apparently real. The Washington Times reports the US Department of Homeland Security is interested in the technology, that carries the most innocuous of names: The Electronic ID Bracelet.

The bracelet -- in development for several years, and distributed by a Canadian company called Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc., more on them in a minute -- would take the place of an airline boarding pass. An RFID chip on the bracelet would contain information about the wearer, and any luggage in their possession. A government-funded GPS system would monitor where the bracelet is at all times, giving security agents the ability to follow suspects (and everyone else) around the airport, and on the plane.

The bracelet -- similar in concept to the wristbands hospital patients are issued -- would be worn by every traveler "until they disembark the flight at their destination."

Which, hopefully, you would... unless you get stunned by another feature on the bracelet: an Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD) sensor, similar in function to a police Taser. According to a promotional video on YouTube, the bracelet would be able to completely immobilize the wearer for several minutes... enough time to subdue a potential hijacker, or the guy in 34C who wanted the WHOLE can of Coca-Cola.

If this sounds like alarmist propaganda, or something you'd hear on late night radio, then don't take our word (or the Times') for it. Read what Paul S. Ruwaldt of the Science and Technology Directorate, office of Research and Development at the Department of Homeland Security, had to say about it.

"To make it clear, we [the federal government] are interested in . . . the immobilizing security bracelet, and look forward to receiving a written proposal," Ruwaldt wrote in a letter to the bracelet's distributor, obtained by the Times. "It is conceivable to envision a use to improve air security, on passenger planes."

Still not convinced? We don't blame you... but here's what Lamperd Less Lethal Inc. had to say in response to the Times' story.

"We wish to clear up any misconceptions regarding the EMD Safety Bracelet for Airline Security," the company wrote in an email comment, since posted on the Lamperd website. "The bracelets remain inactive until a hijacking situation has been identified. At such time a designated crew member will activate the bracelets making them capable of delivering the punitive measure -- but only to those that need to be restrained."

Activation of the bracelets' "stun" setting would be performed in one of two ways. A plane's crew could activate anyone's bracelet, by way of a grid screen installed onboard the aircraft. Flight attendants would also be able to activate a passenger's bracelet "by simply pointing the laser at the bracelet -- that laser dot only needs to be within 10 inches of the bracelet to activate it"... so, hopefully, you're not sitting too close to the alleged perpetrator.

"We believe that all passengers will welcome deliverance from a hijacking, as will the families, carriers, insurance providers etc," the company adds. "The F-16 on the wing-tip is not to reassure the passengers during a hijacking, but rather to shoot them down."

Good grief. There's literally nothing we can say to top that...

FMI: Watch The YouTube! Video, 


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