News Column

E.U. Agrees on New Rules Limiting Use of Body Scanners at Airports

Nov. 14, 2011
body scanner image

The European Union will next month adopt new rules limiting the use of full-body security scanners at airports, the bloc's executive said Monday.

Privacy groups have led an outcry against the machines, which require air passengers to stand for a few seconds in a walk-through cabin while the scanner checks for guns or explosives concealed under clothing. Early devices created a nude image of the passenger.

E.U. rules, to be effective from next month, state that the machines should provide "a matchstick" rendering of passengers or, alternatively, blur their faces, European Commission transport spokeswoman Helen Kearns said.

Security will be prevented from storing, copying or printing the images and staff reviewing them must be in a separate location from passengers undergoing checks. Travellers should also be free to opt out of the body scan and choose an alternative form of screening, Kearns added.

Body scanners are currently used at airports in Britain and the Netherlands. In August, German authorities postponed plans to introduce them after a testing period revealed that U.S.-made machines triggered too many false alerts.

Kearns said E.U. countries remain free to decide whether to introduce the scanners, but stressed that the new technology improves security and reduces queues at airports.

Source: Copyright 2011 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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