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EU commissioner warms up for body scanner probe

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The European Commissioner for Transport, vice-presendent Siim Kallas, is preparing a report on body scanners for the European Parliament.

The perv-scanners are currently in use in Holland and the UK, but Kallas favours European-wide regulation of the devices. The EC was going to include the scanners in its approved list of security screening techniques, but opposition from the European Parliament on privacy grounds forced the Commission to leave scanners off the list.

The issue will be discussed at La Coruna, Spain, when transport ministers meet next week. Then Kallas will prepare a report looking at the privacy, health and security implications of the technology.

Kallas said there had been no failure to meet EU security standards at Schipol Airport on 25 December (when the pants bomber boarded his flight to the US). Instead there had been a failure of intelligence and a failure to "join the dots".

Kallas warned body scanners were not the final answer to airport security.

He said: "Airport security is a much larger question than the introduction of a new screening technology.

"To fight terrorism targeting civil aviation we need a large variety of combined and coordinated measures – intelligence, profiling, different search methods and international cooperation. Body scanners are not the panacea."

The UK scanners were rushed into operation following a Gordon Brown speech. The move was criticised by the head of Interpol, the European Court of Human Rights and Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media. ®

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