Wednesday, October 15, 2008
New ‘strip search’ full body scanners being trialled in Australia will show people’s private parts, officials have admitted.
But to spare their blushes, the faces of passengers will be blurred.
Domestic travellers leaving Melbourne airport over the next six weeks will be asked to test the new security scanners that can see through clothing.
The X-ray backscatter body scanner has been described by critics as a “virtual strip search.”
The scanner is similar to one that was trialled at Paddington station in London in 2006 in direct response to the tube bombings in July 2005.
Similar systems have also been tested at Gatwick airport.
Cheryl Johnson, general manager of the Office of Transport Security, said:’ It will show the private parts of people, but what we’ve decided is that we’re not going to blur those out, because it severely limits the detection capabilities. ‘
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‘It is possible to see genitals and breasts while they’re going through the machine, though,’ she admitted
However, Ms Johnson said there were a number of measures in place to tackle concerns about privacy.
“The faces are automatically blurred and … it’s only a chalk-style outline, it’s not as invasive as some of the other equipment that we’ve got,” she said.
The scanner uses a low energy X-ray to reveal any objects, metal or otherwise, under a person’s clothing, including body features.
The testing will be entirely voluntary during the trial, which is being undertaken to test how the new scanners would affect the flow of passengers through the security point.
“It does see through clothing, but it’s not a photographic image, it’s a low-energy X-ray that reflects off the skin,” added Ms Johnson.
“The security officer that’s looking at it is located away from the screening lane, so there’s no comparison of the person walking through and the image
This article was posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 11:46 am