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Dublin Airport body scanner tests delayed until 2012

Meanwhile, today the European Commission adopted guidelines concerning the use of the controversial scanning machines at airports across the EU.

A Schiphol Airport employee demonstrates a body scanner in December 2009.
A Schiphol Airport employee demonstrates a body scanner in December 2009.
Image: CYNTHIA BOLL/AP/Press Association Images

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION today adopted a range of guidelines governing the use of controversial body scanners in airports across the 27 member states.

The Commission said in a statement that the new legislation lays down “strict operational and technical conditions” for the use of such scanners which also aim to protect health and fundamental rights.

A number of member states including the Netherlands and Britain have been testing or using the full-body scanning technology since the Christmas Day ‘underwear bomber’ attempted to blow up a plane flying from Amsterdam to Detroit using explosives hidden in his pants in 2009.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie today, a spokesperson for the Dublin Airport Authority said that its body scanners are “fully compliant with those regulations”.

However, an 18-month-long testing period of the scanners will not begin at the airport until early next year. The testing, which involves airport staff only, was expected to get underway late this year.

The DAA spokesperson said that no decision has been made on whether the scanners would be used in public spaces yet and no decision would be made on that issue until after the test period has been completed.

The images generated by the device at Dublin Airport will be similar to those produced by scanners used in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (shown in the photo above).

Restrictions

The EU Commissioner responsible for transport Siim Kallas said today that “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,” he added.

The legislation does not compel member states to use the scanners, but outlines the standards which must be met for them to be used within the EU. Under the rules, scanners shall not be permitted to store, retain, copy, print or retrieve images. Any human reviewer analysing the image should be viewing it from a separate place and the image should not be linked to the screen person.

Only scanners which do not use x-ray technology will be permitted for passenger screening at EU airports.

Passengers should also be advised that they can opt out of the scan and be subject to an alternative security check, such as a pat-down by security staff.

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