London: Britain today said it is drawing
up a "code of practice" for airport staff to ensure that body
scanners being introduced at airports do not break laws and
create `indecent` images of children.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said a "code
of practice is being drawn up for airport staff who will use
"We understand the concerns expressed about privacy in
relation to the deployment of body scanners. It is vital that
staff are properly trained, and we are developing a code of
practice to ensure these concerns are properly taken into
account," the spokesperson said.
"Existing safeguards also mean that those operating
the scanners are separated from the device, so that they are
unable to see the person to whom the image relates, and these
anonymous images are deleted immediately," he said.
Privacy campaigners have said images created by the
machines are so graphic that they amount to "virtual
strip-searching" and have called for safeguards to protect the
privacy of passengers involved.
British lawmakers are now having to exempt under-18s
from the scans or face the delay of introducing new
legislation to ensure airport security staff do not commit
offences under child pornography laws.
They also face demands from civil liberties groups for
safeguards to ensure that images from the 80,000-pound
scanners, including those of celebrities, do not end up on the
The Department for Transport said the "child porn"
problem was among "legal and operational issues" now under
discussion in Government after Prime Minister Gordon Brown`s
announcement on Sunday that he wanted to see their "gradual"
introduction at Heathrow and other British airports.
A 12-month trial of scanners at Manchester airport
which revealed naked images of passengers including their
genitalia and breast enlargements, only went ahead last month
after under-18s were exempted.
The decision followed a warning from Terri Dowty, of
Action for Rights of Children, that the scanners could breach
the Protection of Children Act 1978, under which it is illegal
to create an indecent image or a "pseudo-image" of a child.
Dowty told `The Guardian` she had raised concerns with
the Metropolitan police five years ago over plans to use
similar scanners in an anti-knife campaign, and when the
Department for Transport began a similar trial in 2006 on the
Heathrow Express rail service from Paddington station.
Some countries, led by the US, have announced
additional security measures at airports since a Nigerian man
was charged with trying to blow up a US-bound jet on December
23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab reportedly
confessed to being trained by an Al-Qaeda bombmaker in Yemen
for the suicide mission on the Northwest Airlines flight from
Amsterdam to Detroit.