Feeds

Discrimination warning over airport body scanners

Equality watchdog growls at profiling plan

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

The equality watchdog has called on the government to explain its plans for the use of body scanners at airports, citing concerns about racial profiling and privacy.

This weekend the Equality and Human Rights Commission said it had written to the Home Secretary Alan Johnson to urge the "utmost caution" over such technology.

Backscatter X-ray body scanners, which produce a ghostly naked image of their subjects, are currently in trials at Manchester Airport. The UK's largest airport operator, BAA, has said it will install machines "as soon as is practical" at Heathrow.

"The Commission is concerned that that the proposals to introduce body scanners are likely to have a negative impact on individuals' rights to privacy, especially members of particular groups including disabled people, older people, children, transgendered people, women and religious groups," it said.

"Under the Human Rights Act, any infringement of the right to privacy must be justified, necessary and proportionate."

The Commission was set up to independently monitor Human Rights Act compliance.

In the wake of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's failed Christmas Day bombing of a transatlantic airliner above Detroit, Gordon Brown said the government would "examine a range of new techniques to enhance airport security systems... these could include advancing our use of explosive trace technology, full body scanners and advanced x-ray technology."

Johnson has also suggested that air travellers could be selected for scanning by "additional targeted passenger profiling".

"We will be considering all the issues involved, mindful of civil liberties concerns, aware that identity based profiling has its limitations, but conscious of our overriding obligations to protect peoples' life and liberty," he told the Commons earlier this month.

The Commission yesterday warned Johnson that discrimination on racial or religious grounds is illegal.

"In the absence of any evidence provided by the government, the Commission remains to be convinced that the proposals on profiling set out by the Home Secretary are an effective response to the current threat, and are therefore justifiable," it said.

"The Commission is therefore not convinced that the proposals amount to a lawful, or proportionate response to the current threat."

Body scanners have also drawn fire from child protection groups. The Manchester trial also had to be revised last year after suggestions that scanning children could violate child pornography laws. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?