Feeds

Discrimination warning over airport body scanners

Equality watchdog growls at profiling plan

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
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
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...
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.