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I feel safer already… (#2)

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 16 years ago, in 2008, on the World Wide Web.

… now that I know the bright bulbs within the federal government air travel Securitate are mulling over a privateering firm’s proposal to force all airline passengers to wear a remotely controlled electric human collar. For security’s sake, of course.

The promotional video suggests that some, perhaps many, regular flyers would be willing to wear a shock bracelet like this in order to get the benefits of convenience and increased security that it offers. But the argument isn’t entirely ingenuous, because whether airline passengers would choose to wear them or not, Less Lethal, Inc. prefers its markets captive, and would rather get the TSA and the FAA to do the choosing for everyone, whether the passengers like it or not.

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc. website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers (video also shown below).

This bracelet would:

  • Take the place of an airline boarding pass

  • Contain personal information about the traveler

  • Be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage

  • Shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes

The Electronic ID Bracelet, as it's referred to, would be worn by every traveler until they disembark the flight at their destination. Yes, you read that correctly. Every airline passenger would be tracked by a government-funded GPS, containing personal, private and confidential information, and would shock the customer worse than an electronic dog collar if the passenger got out of line.

Clearly the Electronic ID Bracelet is a euphemism for the EMD Safety Bracelet, or at least it has a nefarious hidden ability (thus the term ID Bracelet is ambiguous at best). EMD stands for Electro-Musclar Disruption. Again, according to the promotional video, the bracelet can completely immobilize the wearer for several minutes.

So is the government really that interested in this bracelet?

Apparently so.

According to this letter from DHS official, Paul S. Ruwaldt of the Science and Technology Directorate, office of Research and Development, which was written to the inventor whom he had previously met with, Ruwaldt wrote, To make it clear, we [the federal government] are interested in . . . the immobilizing security bracelet, and look forward to receiving a written proposal.

The letterhead, in case you were wondering, is from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security office at the William J. Hughes Technical Center at the Atlantic City International Airport, or the Federal Aviation Administration headquarters.

In another part of the letter, Mr. Ruwaldt confirmed, In addition, it is conceivable to envision a use to improve air security, on passenger planes.

Would every paying airline passenger flying on a commercial airplane be mandated to wear one of these devices? I cringe at the thought. Not only could it be used as a physical restraining device, but also as a method of interrogation, according to the same aforementioned letter from Mr. Ruwaldt.

— Jeffrey Denning, Washington Times blogs (2008-07-01): Want some torture with your peanuts?

I sure would feel so much safer wearing an electric device that would allow third parties to torture me with immobilizing electric shocks whenever they want to force me to comply with their orders or want to end an argument that they feel has grown tiresome. I feel safer already knowing that the government officials who have the power to force these torture devices on everyone are interested and consider this an acceptable way to treat their fellow human beings.

Jeffrey Denning’s post on the proposal ends with a couple of questions, which no doubt seemed reasonable to him, but which strike me as rather weird questions to ask.

Why are tax dollars being spent on something like this?

Is this a police state or is this America?

The short answer to the second question is Yes. And if you understand why the second question doesn’t pose a genuine dichotomy, then the answer to the first question should be more obvious than Jeffrey Denning might like to think.

See also:

7 replies to I feel safer already… (#2) Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Mike Gogulski

    No, no. Don’t worry, once it’s successfully deployed on airliners this dark technology will never, ever be extended to railroads, buses, shopping malls, concerts, public schools or public parks.

    9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11!

    How could you even think that?

  2. smally

    If you’re not a terrorist or dangerous Transformers fan, you’ve got nothing to fear.

  3. Natasha

    Holy fuck. Doesn’t it suck when your worst predictions about the political direction of a country seem to be coming true?

    Thanks for reporting this, Charles.

  4. Scott Bieser

    My laugh out loud moment from the video:

    “Employees … seldom have the police training and certification necessary to be 100 percent effective.”


· September 2008 ·

  1. BJ

    Both disturbing and flawed. Any terrorist smart enough to manage to get explosives/weapons onto a plane could easily counter such a device. Simply insert a piece of rubber between the electrodes and your skin and I’d have thought that would prvide ample protection, and that’s just off the top of my head. Also, what happens if said terrorist alters his mobile phone to transmit a signal on the same radio frequency as the bracelets? I doubt anything like this will ever come to fruition in the near future – the air industry is grinding to a standstill at the moment as it is, they don’t need to give people any excuse to boycott them.

  2. Taarax

    Very, very, very disturbing…

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