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EU bottoms up committee slates body scanners

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An obscure EU Committee has slammed the introduction of body scanners, raising concerns over the health and human rights risks of the technology.

The European Economic and Social Committee has delivered an opinion on scanner technology, which sets out concerns over the scanners' ability to improve security "which, coupled with the considerable cost of the scanners, remains the key issue".

It suggested authorities use "available technologies to identify broad sources of threat", which could then be further investigated with pat-down searches.

This is until scanners and similar technologies evolve and become "better equipped and less intrusive than scanners in their current form". It also said the use of body scanners was not advisable till more work had been done on health risks.

"The European Commission is focused too much on technology and erroneously downplays the importance of enhanced intelligence sharing and human factor analysis", said Bernardo Hernández Bataller (Spain, Various Interests' Group), rapporteur of the opinion.

The group slated the eroding of "fundamental rights" as a trade-off for public security, and said passengers should be able to opt out of searches without being hit with "additional burdens" such as delays or long queues. Efforts to rebrand body scanners as "security scanners" also got short shrift as a transparent attempt to make them "politically attractive".

The committee's announcements are hard-hitting, though it is debatable whether they will actually blunt the authorities' effort to scan us all.

After all, have you heard of the EESC before? Its raison d'être is to be a "bridge between Europe and organised civil society", giving a voice to the people "on the ground". Which is presumably why the "committee" is 350-strong, and describes itself as "the only way for Europe's interest groups – trade unionists, employers, farmers, etc – to have a formal and institutionalized say on draft EU legislation." ®

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