Dutch show little opposition to airport ‘naked’ body scanners

October 25th, 2008 - 5:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Amsterdam, Oct 25 (DPA) Dutch politicians were Saturday expressing little opposition to the airport “naked” body scanners which have met with angry resistance or incredulity elsewhere in the European Union (EU).The appliances, being tested at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport, were “absolutely discreet”, Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin was quoted as saying in de Volkskant newspaper and other media.

“Personally, I’d be for them, and make use of them,” the Christian Democrat politician said, adding that he had seen them in action at Schipol, where they have been tested since May 2007.

The scanners - which scan beneath clothing to detect non-metallic weapons or explosives - did not expose the face of the scanned person, he stressed.

That meant there could be no risk of “pictures of naked celebrities” somehow cropping up in the media, since the anonymity of the images “would not increase sales at any newspaper kiosk”.

Dutch leftist and liberal politicians, while criticising the scanners, have not rejected them outright - but insist that clear and strict rules apply to their use is introduced EU-wide.

German politicians Friday expressed across-the-board opposition to EU plans for the full-body scanners to be used.

“We do not want our federal policemen to be considered voyeurs,” said German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble at a meeting in Luxembourg with his EU colleagues.

Schaeuble said Germany would not use such scanners as long as they threatened to “ridicule” security operations and undermine people’s confidence in the police.

On Thursday, Germany’s federal police (BKA) said it would start studying the devices to establish if they are a threat to health or if they breach German privacy laws.

But a BKA spokesman said Germany did not use the scanners “and it is going to stay that way”.

Proponents say the scanners can detect ceramic knives and plastic explosives which are invisible to current detectors, and also avoid the need for guards to “pat down” travellers with their hands.

Germany’s main political parties criticise the scanners as a threat to people’s personal privacy.

The EU’s top justice official, Jacques Barrot, insisted Friday that the use of such scanners would be on a strictly voluntary basis.

Body scanners were also defended by French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, who chaired the meeting in Luxembourg on behalf of the EU presidency.

Body scanners are currently being tested at London’s Heathrow as well as Schiphol, and the European Commission is considering extending their use throughout the 27-member bloc.

Civil rights advocates fear that the images they produce could one day start circulating on the Internet.

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