Airports: Body Scanners – Written Answers

Lord Sheikh asked several questions in the House of Lords regarding body scanners at airports which were answered by the Minister (Lord Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport). The details are below:

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will address public concerns that the images created of those who go through body scanners may be too graphic.

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The image produced does not show any distinguishing features such as hair or skin tone and it is not possible to recognise people from their facial features.

In addition extensive safeguards have been developed to ensure passengers’ privacy is respected. Images are viewed remotely from the machine, and are deleted immediately after analysis. Images cannot be recovered at a later date from the machines or printed.

An interim code of practice has been produced for the initial deployment of body scanners. It is available via the Department for Transport website. It will ensure that the implementation and application of body scanners will be proportionate to privacy rights.

The department will be launching a full public consultation shortly on the interim code of practice and will consider all representations carefully before preparing a final code of practice later in the year.

 

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will deal with women who do not wish to be scanned by body scanners.

Lord Adonis: If an individual selected for scanning declines to be scanned, they will not be offered an alternative method of screening, and will not be allowed to travel. Individuals are able to request that their image is viewed by a screener of the same gender if that is their preference.

 

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps have been taken to ensure that airport security equipment is not used to discriminate unfairly against any social or ethnic group.

Lord Adonis: As stated in the interim code of practice for the initial deployment of body scanners: “Passengers must not be selected on the basis of personal characteristics (ie on a basis that may constitute discrimination such as gender, age, race or ethnic origin)”.

 

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what safeguards they will put in place to ensure that proper care and respect for cultural differences are taken into account when using anti-terrorism body scanners.

 

 

Lord Adonis: The Government have published an interim code of practice for the initial deployment of body scanners. It is available via the Department for Transport website. It will ensure that the implementation and application of body scanners properly respects privacy rights.

The department will be launching a full public consultation shortly on the interim code of practice and will consider all representations carefully before preparing a final code of practice later in the year.

Extensive safeguards have been developed to ensure passengers’ privacy is respected. Only security-vetted and trained security staff employed by the airport will be able to view the images. Images are viewed remotely from the machine, and are deleted immediately after analysis. Images cannot be recovered at a later date from the machines. In addition individuals may request that their image is viewed by a screener of the same gender.

 

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what course of action will be taken if a person declines a full body search on the ground that it challenges their dignity.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they will take to ensure that passengers who decline a full-body search will not be banned from flying.

Lord Adonis: In that circumstance, an alternative method of screening will not be offered and the individual will not be allowed to travel.

An interim code of practice has been produced for the initial deployment of body scanners and is available via the Department for Transport website.

The department will be launching a full public consultation shortly on the interim code of practice and will consider all representations carefully before preparing a final code of practice later in the year.

 

Updated: 10/03/2010 — 4:25 PM