MEPs put virtual strip machines on the block

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The European Parliament has finally gotten round to slapping a 'for sale' notice on half a dozen body scanners it has had lying around its buildings for the last five years.

The belated sale, which was forced by MEPs' privacy qualms, will probably speed national governments' plans to get up close and personal with the rest of us in the wake of the Christmas pants bomb attempt in Detroit.

The Euro parliament's managers ordered the full body scanners after the September 11 terror attacks. And in true Euro style, they finally turned up in 2005, at three quarters of a million euros each. They were then quietly stored away, in readiness for any future emergency.

But they became an embarrassment last year, when MEPs were feeling elated over their fearless opposition to legislation to allow full body skimmers in Europe. The MEPs were, of course, disconcerted by the privacy threat body scanners presented. Strasbourg's management dutifully agreed to flog them off.

Now, a mere 12 months on, they are about to begin the tendering process for the sale, according to EU Observer.

And in an almost supernatural coincidence, the MEPs are likely to have some very willing customers, in the shape of the national governments' racing to install body scanning technology in the wake of the abortive pants bombing on Christmas day.

Which of course, means that the MEPs brave stand for privacy - and their drive for economies - means Europe's national governments could be able to install body scanners around the EU a little faster and a bit cheaper than might have otherwise been expected. The technology might be a little creaky now, but it does seem that body scanning is more theatre than science anyway.

Though the European Parliament itself doesn't quite see it like that, with a spokesman telling EU Observer, "The Parliament is not an airport."

Which is true - Airports are usually busy places. ®

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