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Naked scans: Net cries nude-o-geddon

If gov says 'pants to terrorism', will you feel the breeze?

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The proliferation of airport body scanners will spark a flurry of low-grade porn, internet conspiracy theorists claimed last week.

But officials at Manchester Airport, where full body scanning is already due to be tested, have been quick to dismiss this as urban myth. Who to ignore?

A number of websites have suggested it is a simple enough matter to transform the slightly abstract, solarised images currently taken by airport scanners and turn them into slightly fuzzed smut.

This was the story that started to appear last week on sites such as Prison Planet, and which has been gaining ground across the world by the usual process of internet osmosis.

Manchester's officials have countered, pointing out that the images being bounced around the net as examples of the alleged threat to personal privacy are nothing like the images created by scanning – and that no images are ever saved within the system.

"There is simply no potential for images captured by the scanners to be reversed," a spokesman stated. "This very much looks to be a scare story.

"Besides, images taken by the scanners are not ever saved to any form of permanent medium, so there is no scope for images to be played with in this way."

The spokesman also confirmed that the scheme currently being piloted at Manchester airport will not involve the scanning of any children under the age of 18.

Barring further evidence to the contrary, then, it does look like the internet whipping itself into a frenzy about nothing very much - privacy and nudity were always going to be a dream combination for the paranoid contingent. As you were. However, that doesn't mean that the introduction of full-body scanners - particularly with regard to younger travellers - isn't going to raise some uncomfortable issues; not least for Gordon Brown.

The Prime Minister's immediate response to the apprehension of Umar 'Pants Bomber' Abdulmutallab was to give the go-ahead for full-body scanners to be introduced at all of Britain's airports. These may be used in future not only on departing passengers, but also on passengers in transit through an airport.

This latest instance of "policy by Prime Ministerial decree" may yet fall foul of other safety laws put in place by this government, though, as lawyers continue to ponder whether the scanning of under-18s contravenes recently passed child protection legislation. Perhaps some arse-covering is in order... ®

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