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    EU Delays Use of Backscatter X-rays; Germany Rejects Machines

    The European Union is having difficulty deploying full-body X-ray scanners in airports. Deutsche Welle reports:

    A plan to introduce full-body scanners at airports throughout the EU was voted down by a margin of 361 to 16 with 181 abstentions in the European Parliament Thursday.

    Saying that the scanners “have a serious impact on the fundamental rights of citizens”, the lawmakers voted on a non-binding resolution asking the bloc’s executive European Commission to carry out an economic, medical and human rights assessment of the impact of using full-body scanners.

    Click here to see an example of the detailed backscatter X-ray photos that are taken. BBC News explains the backscatter X-ray technology:

    Computer pictures generated by the scanners give an outline of passengers’ bodies beneath their clothes.

    Supporters say they detect hidden objects not picked up by traditional metal detectors. But critics say they amount to a virtual strip search.

    The new scanners have already been introduced in several US airports and have been tested around the world.

    Since the European Parliament’s vote, Germany has stated that it will not use the detailed body scanners. At a press conference on Friday, a German Interior Ministry spokeswoman said, “I can tell you with complete clarity that we are not going to cooperate in this mischief,” reports Deutsche Welle.

    Backscatter X-ray machines are already in use in the United States. The Transportation Security Administration has taken steps to guard individual privacy by including a modesty filter. The agency also states, “Images will be deleted immediately once viewed and will never be stored, transmitted or printed (the passenger imaging units have zero storage capability).” Though I question the efficacy of the machines, I support the efforts to protect individual privacy and hope that TSA continues to apply these restrictions.

    A couple of months ago, I discussed TSA’s testing of drive-through backscatter X-ray technology on individuals in cars at airports.

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