Feeds

Child porn threat to airport's 'virtual strip search' scanners

Erm, has legal OK'd this?

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Manchester Airport has rejected claims its new body scanners will fall foul of child pornography laws, claiming that because they use X-rays "they do not make an image".

The machines use low doses of radiation to deliver a 3D black and white scan of volunteer passengers' bodies to a human operator sat in front of a screen. The scans reveal objects concealed underneath their clothes - including genitals.

The airport says the technology will improve and speed up security checks.

During the 12-month trial children will be scanned if their parents give consent. The policy has prompted the children's civil rights group Action on Rights for Children (ARCH) to write to bosses, insisting they will break the law.

Making an indecent image of a child is an offence under the Protection of Children Act - the fact Manchester Airport scans will not be stored is irrelevant in the eyes of the law.

ARCH has sought and been given government assurances during past trials that the scanners that can see under clothes will not be used on children.

"It's completely unlawful. Manchester Airport haven't got a leg to stand on," the group's spokeswoman Terri Dowty told The Register today.

There is a "prevention and detection of crime" exemption in the law, but legal precedent indicates, but "it isn't a license for a trawling exercise", said Dowty. Authorities would need a good reason to justify using such an exemption, she added.

ARCH has campaigned against the use of body scanners on children, arguing they are disproportionately intrusive and remove their right to dignity, particularly given many are sensitive about their bodies.

A spokesman for Manchester Airport said he wasn't yet aware of ARCH's letter of complaint, but argued the scans did not amount to an "image" in legal terms.

ARCH believes it has the beating of that argument, however. A provision of the Protection of Children Act specifically outlaws "pseudo-photographs".

Dowty said that if ARCH is not satisfied by Manchester Airport's response to its complaint, it will mount a legal challenge to stop the scanning of children.

The Department of Transport, which in 2006 said children would not be scanned during a trial of the same technology at Paddington train station, was not immediately available for comment. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.