Passengers Laid Bare as Full Body Scanners Are Introduced at Heathrow and Manchester Airports

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  • Travellers
    chosen for scan must cooperate – or face flight ban





  • Airport
    bosses: Race, religion or ethnicity not a consideration
  • 60 passengers
    scanned at Manchester ‘without incident’

The introduction
of full body scanners at Heathrow and Manchester airports has today
caused outrage among civil liberty campaigners who say that they
are an invasion of privacy.

claim the scanners, which act like a mini radar device ‘seeing’
beneath ordinary clothing, breach privacy rules under the Human
Rights Act.

The exemption
of under 18s from being scanned, which was in place during the trial
of the machines in Manchester amid fears the scanners could breach
child protection laws, has also been removed.

The Equality
and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) also warned that using profiling
techniques to single out Muslims, Asians and black people for scanning
at airports could breach race and religious discrimination laws
introduced by the government.

It was also
revealed yesterday that air passengers who refuse to submit to a
full body scan at Heathrow and Manchester airports will be barred
from taking their flights.

The scanners
have been introduced in the wake of a failed attempt by 23-year-old
Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a transatlantic jet
on Christmas Day.

Airport bosses
at Manchester and Heathrow said those selected for scanning are
not being chosen on the basis of race, religion or ethnicity.

They will instead
scan passengers if they raise the suspicion of security officers
following a hand search or unsolved metal detection alarm.

They will also
go through if explosive or vapour trace detection equipment causes
an alarm to sound or if they request a private search prior to or
after passing through the walk-through metal detection equipment.

The first passengers
at Manchester Airport who used the scanner backed the controversial

In the first
hour after the machine was made compulsory around 60 people were
scanned at Manchester.

Andrew Mark,
46, from Wolverhampton, was among the first to be selected.

Mr Mark said:
‘We have nothing to hide so it’s not a problem. It didn’t seem to
hold us up either as it only takes a few seconds.’

But another
passenger, Pakize Durmaz, 34, called on airport staff to explain
to passengers why they had been chosen.

‘The process
is really easy and I felt comfortable going through it but I didn’t
really know what they were doing. They told us we had been chosen
at random but I think they should give better reasons why people
are picked,’ she said.

At Heathrow,
Richard and Susan Winter described the machines as an invasion of
privacy but said they understood why there were being introduced.

The married
couple from Folkestone in Kent were flying to Sri Lanka this evening.

Housewife Mrs
Winter, 55, said: ‘I feel it is incredibly intrusive but this is
the price we have to pay in the modern world.

‘For security
reasons it is a good thing – it is better to do this than let
someone creep on with a shoe bomb.

‘I feel it
will invade my privacy but if it ends up saving lives it is important
and worth doing.

‘We flew in
the aftermath of 9/11 and there was a real air of suspicion between
passengers. Hopefully this will eliminate that.’

Mr Winter,
a 66-year-old retired chauffeur, added: ‘You have got to say yes
to it because no-one wants to be blown out of a plane.

‘It’s an unfortunate
necessity – it would be lovely to be in a world with no trouble
but there’s no avoiding it.’

Keith and Anne
Bird, a retired couple from Basingstoke, Hampshire, were waiting
to board the same plane.

Mr Bird, 66,
said: ‘I have no problem at all. There is so much intrusion into
our lives these days I think that walking through the scanners will
be like water off a duck’s back.

‘In some ways
I prefer it to the amount of CCTV there is because it serves a definite
purpose – to protect people.

‘You don’t
see people marching in the streets about this – it really is
not an issue.’

His 65-year-old
wife agreed. She said: ‘I don’t see any problems with having my
body scanned. Anything that makes flying safer is a good thing.’

Edward Smith,
38, was flying to Singapore this evening.

The business
consultant from Blackburn in Lancashire said: ‘Measures such as
these are vital because terrorists do not play by the rules.

‘We must use
every piece of technology possible to disrupt them and prevent them
from creating more atrocities.’

the rest of the article

5, 2010

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