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MEPs approve body scanners on airports on a voluntarily basis

1 June, 2011

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: EU-Abgeordnete befürworten Nacktscanner-Einsatz auf freiwilliger Basi...

As the European Commission plans new rules to add body scanners to the list of EU-authorised methods for passenger screening, the European Parliament, which has the right to veto, made its position known on 24 May 2011, by approving a report that backs the use of body scanners provided they don't interfere with passenger privacy or pose health risks.

MEPs on the Transport Committee agreed that the use of body scanners in EU airports would enhance security but considered the method should be used voluntarily.

The report, that is to be voted in the plenary on 23 June, asks for several conditions to be met on body scanners, including a ban on scanners using ionising radiations, like x-rays, and the necessity of using the least harmful technology, so as to ensure the passengers' health.

"We need to be sure that the new equipment will not impact people's health. Therefore, x-ray scans should be rejected," said Luis de Grandes Pascual, the MEP who drafted the report.

The US Transportation Security Administration has insisted, in its turn, that the radiation from airport body scanners poses no threat to health and that every x-ray backscatter unit was operating "well within applicable national safety standards".

MEPs believe the use of body scanners should be made by also ensuring the protection of the personal data, dignity and privacy, the report asking for the use of only "stick figures" without body images being produced, and without storage of the obtained figures. To be sure of that, "the technology used must not have the capabilities to store or save data". Moreover, the passengers must be able to opt for a manual search instead of a body scan and the scans should be random and non-discriminatory.

According to the report, the Member States should provide extra control points and security staff to ensure that passengers are not slowed down by the need to pass through body scanners. MEPs also call for international aviation security coordination with mutual recognition of measures and one-stop security systems in order to ensure that passengers, luggage and cargo at EU airports are screened only once.

Presently, body scanners are in use in UK and Dutch airports and have been tested in Germany, Italy, France and Finland.

MEPs back body scanners but want strict safeguards (26.05.2011)

Information on body scanners and safety from TSA

Information on body scanners from the European Commission

Controversial body scanners continue to cause transatlatic divide (26.05.2011)

Strict safeguards needed for airport body scanners, say MEPs (24.05.2011)

Draft Report on aviation security, with a special focus on security scanners - Committee on Transport and Tourism (23.02.2011)

EDRi-gram: EESC condemns body scanners as a breach of fundamental rights (23.02.2011)



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