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Privacy safeguards must not be ignored in rush for airport body scanners, says Euro MP

February 2, 2010 5:37 PM
finger print scan - no2id

Plans for body scanners at airports have sparked invasion of privacy fears

Full body scanners now being installed at Birmingham Airport must only be used if privacy is properly protected, local Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne warned today.

The LibDem MEP for the West Midlands spoke out after it was confirmed that digital X-ray scanners which can see through clothes are being rushed into service after a Yemeni-trained suicide bomber tried and failed to use explosives hidden in his underpants.

An earlier trial of the devices led to fears that they could do fundamental damage to people's right to privacy, and unresolved child protection issues.

MEPs including Liz Lynne complained that the European Commission was promoting the plans without letting Parliament have a say.

Liz Lynne said:

"We need to take all reasonable steps to catch suicide bombers but it is also vital that passengers' civil liberties and privacy is protected.

"There are concerns about who would operate the scanners, what happens to the images produced and what steps would be taken to stop computers displaying them being hacked into. These concerns were not adequately answered after the trials last year.

"Allowing random scans of just a few passengers also risks damaging community relations. People stopped would feel unfairly singled out. If we must have these scanners then they should be for all passengers or none, with proper safeguards in place.

"The lesson of the recent failed attack on a flight to America was surely that intelligence services needed to get their act together - the man arrested was already on various watch lists but no one in the CIA or at the airport pulled the data together and stopped him from flying."