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Europeans Will Face More Airport Body Scanners
EU resolution allows widespread use of technology, with conditions
July 7, 2011
The European Union Parliament has adopted a resolution to allow the full use of body scanners in airports of the 27 European member nations.
A majority of MEPs expressed support in a show of raised hands ahead of a scheduled decision this week by the autonomous European Commission whether to authorize the use of scanners at airports. The Parliament will then have three months to overturn the decision.
UK airports, as well as airports in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Finland have been using the scanners in trials since last year. Currently in the UK, anyone who refuses to walk through the scanner if asked to do so is automatically refused permission to fly.
This is one of a number of conditions that MEPs agreed should be changed, noting that “Passengers should have the right to refuse body scanning and opt for alternative screening methods that guarantee the same level of effectiveness while respecting their rights and dignity.” a press release states.
“Such a refusal should not give rise to any suspicion of the passenger”, MEPs added.
Many will see this as a poisoned chalice as it will inevitable lead to a rise in enhanced pat-downs and the problems that come with them, as has been witnessed in the United States.
The lawmakers also noted that member states should only “deploy technology which is the least harmful for human health” and addresses privacy concerns. Due to health risks “scanners using ionising radiation should be prohibited in the EU” the MEPs agreed.
The conditions also included only allowing the scanners to produce stick like images and a condition that any data must be immediately destroyed and not stored or reproduced.
“The technology used must not have the capabilities to store or save data,” the resolution states. This has been a point of contention for some time, as the US government has continually maintained that the machines they use cannot store images, yet documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have shown that they are specifically designed to do so.
Unlike Europe, the US immediately increased the deployment of all types of body scanners after the 2009 attempted underpants bombing incident. US officials, including the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, urged Europe to do the same, but a decision was made to study their impact on health and privacy.
Now the EU is apparently banning the ionizing radiation scanners, there is sure to be a renewed backlash against the TSA for continuing to use such machines.
It remains to be seen whether the the scanners that are introduced will meet the conditions suggested by MEPs, however, as we reported yesterday, the technology does exist.
Should such technology be deployed in European airports, Americans will have little excuse for tolerating what they are currently being subjected to at the hands of the TSA.
Numerous highly respected universities and health bodies, including Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, the University of California, and the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety, have all warned that the health threat posed by the scanners has not been properly studied and could lead to increased cancer rates.
Despite the TSA lying in claiming that Johns Hopkins had verified the safety of the scanners, Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at the Johns Hopkins school of medicine, has publicly warned that “statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays”.
A study conducted last year by Dr David Brenner, head of Columbia University’s center for radiological research, also found that the body scanners are likely to lead to an increase in a common type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma, which affects the head and neck.
As we reported last week, leaked documents published by the Electronic Privacy Information Center revealed how TSA workers became concerned over a “cancer cluster” amongst screening agents at Boston Logan International Airport, and how the federal agency tried to cover-up the complaints.
The controversy surrounding the use of full body scanners is clearly unresolved. When we travel, and increasingly even when we go to public events, we are now being confronted with a “choice” of scanners that will fire radiation, scanners that allegedly will not, or a full grope down.
None of those “choices” are representative of living within a free society.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.
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