[ RadSafe ] Europe Bans X-Ray Body Scanners Used at U.S. Airports

Fred Dawson GoogleMail fred.wp.dawson at googlemail.com
Wed Nov 16 02:49:37 CST 2011

from Scientific American

"The European Union on Monday prohibited the use of X-ray body scanners [1]
in European airports, parting ways with the U.S. Transportation Security
Administration, which has deployed hundreds of the scanners as a way to
screen millions of airline passengers for explosives hidden under clothing.

The European Commission, which enforces common policies of the EU's 27
member countries, adopted the rule "in order not to risk jeopardizing
citizens' health and safety."


European Commission - Press release

Aviation security: Commission adopts new rules on the use of security
scanners at European airports
Brussels, 14 November 2011 -The European Commission has adopted today a
proposal for an European Union legal framework on security scanners. This
legislation allows airports and Member States that wish to use security
scanners for the screening of passengers to do so under strict operational
and technical conditions.

Member States have been trialling or testing security scanners1, since a
terrorist attempted on 25 December 2009 to blow up a plane flying from
Amsterdam to Detroit with plastic explosives he had hidden in his underwear.
Until now the use of security scanners has been done under a patchwork of
different national operational procedures and standards and in a limited
way. As a common EU-wide framework, the new legislation legally allows
Member States and airports to replace current security systems with security
scanners. It also ensures the uniform application of security rules at all
airports and provides strict and mandatory safeguards to ensure compliance
with fundamental rights and the protection of health.

Member States and airports do not have an obligation to deploy security
scanners, but if they decide to use them, they will have to comply with the
operational conditions and performance standards set at European level.

Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner responsible for transport, said:
"Security scanners are not a panacea but they do offer a real possibility to
reinforce passenger security. Security scanners are a valuable alternative
to existing screening methods and are very efficient in detecting both
metallic and non-metallic objects. It is still for each Member State or
airport to decide whether or not to deploy security scanners, but these new
rules ensure that where this new technology is used it will be covered by EU
wide standards on detection capability as well as strict safeguards to
protect health and fundamental rights. Experience to date shows that
passengers and staff generally see security scanners as a convenient method
of screening."

Security scanners are an effective method of screening passengers as they
are capable of detecting both metallic and non-metallic items carried on a
person. The scanner technology is developing rapidly and has the potential
to significantly reduce the need for manual searches ("pat-downs") applied
to passengers, crews and airport staff.

Under the new EU legislation the use of security scanners is only allowed in
accordance with minimum conditions such as for example that: security
scanners shall not store, retain, copy, print or retrieve images; any
unauthorised access and use of the image is prohibited and shall be
prevented; the human reviewer analysing the image shall be in a separate
location and the image shall not be linked to the screened person and
others. Passengers must be informed about conditions under which the
security scanner control takes place. In addition, passengers are given the
right to opt out from a control with scanners and be subject to an
alternative method of screening.

By laying down specific operational conditions and by providing passengers
with the possibility of opting out, the legislation safeguards fundamental
rights and the principles recognised in particular by the Charter of
Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

In order not to risk jeopardising citizens' health and safety, only security
scanners which do not use X-ray technology are added to the list of
authorised methods for passenger screening at EU airports. All other
technologies, such as that used for mobiles phones and others, can be used
provided that they comply with EU security standards. 


Fred Dawson
New Malden

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