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VIRTUAL STRIP SEARCH ILLEGAL?

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YES.

 

 

New scanners break child porn laws

 

 

 

Alan Travis, home affairs editor

guardian.co.uk, Monday 4 January 2010 22.14 GMT

 

 

 

The rapid introduction of full body scanners at British airports threatens to breach child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children, the Guardian has learned.

 

Privacy campaigners claim the images created by the machines are so graphic they amount to "virtual strip-searching" and have called for safeguards to protect the privacy of passengers involved.

 

Ministers now face having to exempt under 18s from the scans or face the delays of introducing new legislation to ensure airport security staff do not commit offences under child pornography laws.

 

They also face demands from civil liberties groups for safeguards to ensure that images from the £80,000 scanners, including those of celebrities, do not end up on the internet. The Department for Transport confirmed that the "child porn" problem was among the "legal and operational issues" now under discussion in Whitehall after Gordon Brown's announcement on Sunday that he wanted to see their "gradual" introduction at British airports.

 

A 12-month trial at Manchester airport of scanners which reveal naked images of passengers including their genitalia and breast enlargements, only went ahead last month after under-18s were exempted.

 

The decision followed a warning from Terri Dowty, of Action for Rights of Children, that the scanners could breach the Protection of Children Act 1978, under which it is illegal to create an indecent image or a "pseudo-image" of a child.

 

Dowty told the Guardian she raised concerns with the Metropolitan police five years ago over plans to use similar scanners in an anti-knife campaign, and when the Department for Transport began a similar trial in 2006 on the Heathrow Express rail service from Paddington station.

 

"They do not have the legal power to use full body scanners in this way," said Dowty, adding there was an exemption in the 1978 law to cover the "prevention and detection of crime" but the purpose had to be more specific than the "trawling exercise" now being considered.

 

A Manchester airport spokesman said their trial had started in December, but only with passengers over 18 until the legal situation with children was clarified. So far 500 people have taken part on a voluntary basis with positive feedback from nearly all those involved.

 

Passengers also pass through a metal detector before they can board their plane. Airport officials say the scanner image is only seen by a single security officer in a remote location before it is deleted.

 

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We understand the concerns expressed about privacy in relation to the deployment of body scanners. It is vital staff are properly trained and we are developing a code of practice to ensure these concerns are properly taken into account. Existing safeguards also mean those operating scanners are separated from the device, so unable to see the person to whom the image relates, and these anonymous images are deleted immediately."

 

But Shami Chakrabarti, of Liberty, had concerns over the "instant" introduction of scanners: "Where are the government assurances that electronic strip-searching is to be used in a lawful and proportionate and sensitive manner based on rational criteria rather than racial or religious bias?" she said.

 

Her concerns were echoed by Simon Davies of Privacy International who said he was sceptical of the privacy safeguards being used in the United States. Although the American system insists on the deletion of the images, he believed scans of celebrities or of people with unusual or freakish body profiles would prove an "irresistible pull" for some employees.

 

The disclosures came as Downing Street insisted British intelligence information that the Detroit plane suspect tried to contact radical Islamists while a student in London was passed on to the US.

 

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's name was included in a dossier of people believed to have made attempts to deal with extremists, but he was not singled out as a particular risk, Brown's spokesman said.

 

President Barack Obama has criticised US intelligence agencies for failing to piece together information about the 23-year-old that should have stopped him boarding the flight.

 

Brown's spokesman said "There was security information about this individual's activities and that was shared with the US authorities."

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All this being demanded by government even though these scanners wouldn't have done anything..........

 

 

Are planned airport scanners just a scam?

 

New technology that Gordon Brown relies on for his response to the Christmas Day bomb attack has been tested – and found wanting

 

By Jane Merrick

Sunday, 3 January 2010

 

The explosive device smuggled in the clothing of the Detroit bomb suspect would not have been detected by body-scanners set to be introduced in British airports, an expert on the technology warned last night.

 

The claim severely undermines Gordon Brown's focus on hi-tech scanners for airline passengers as part of his review into airport security after the attempted attack on Flight 253 on Christmas Day.

 

The Independent on Sunday has also heard authoritative claims that officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home Office have already tested the scanners and were not persuaded that they would work comprehensively against terrorist threats to aviation.

 

The claims triggered concern that the Prime Minister is over-playing the benefits of such scanners to give the impression he is taking tough action on terrorism.

 

And experts in the US said airport "pat-downs" – a method used in hundreds of airports worldwide – were ineffective and would not have stopped the suspect boarding the plane.

 

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, allegedly concealed in his underpants a package containing nearly 3oz of the chemical powder PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate). He also carried a syringe containing a liquid accelerant to detonate the explosive.

 

Since the attack was foiled, body-scanners, using "millimetre-wave" technology and revealing a naked image of a passenger, have been touted as a solution to the problem of detecting explosive devices that are not picked up by traditional metal detectors – such as those containing liquids, chemicals or plastic explosive.

 

But Ben Wallace, the Conservative MP, who was formerly involved in a project by a leading British defence research firm to develop the scanners for airport use, said trials had shown that such low-density materials went undetected.

 

Tests by scientists in the team at Qinetiq, which Mr Wallace advised before he became an MP in 2005, showed the millimetre-wave scanners picked up shrapnel and heavy wax and metal, but plastic, chemicals and liquids were missed.

 

If a material is low density, such as powder, liquid or thin plastic – as well as the passenger's clothing – the millimetre waves pass through and the object is not shown on screen. High- density material such as metal knives, guns and dense plastic such as C4 explosive reflect the millimetre waves and leave an image of the object.

 

 

Mr Wallace said: "Gordon Brown is grasping at headlines if he thinks buying a couple of scanners will make us safer. It is too little, too late. Under his leadership, he starved the defence research budget that could have funded a comprehensive solution while at the same time he has weakened our border security.

 

"Scanners cannot provide a comprehensive solution on their own. We must now start to ask if national security demands the use of profiling."

 

Mr Wallace added that X-ray scanners were also unlikely to have detected the Christmas Day bomb.

 

The Government is looking at millimetre-wave scanners for widespread use in British airports as part of Mr Brown's review. They are safer to use than X-ray scanners because they do not emit radiation and do not require passengers' consent. Pregnant women cannot go through X-ray scanners but there are no such health risks with millimetre-wave technology.

 

However, a Whitehall source revealed that the DfT and the Home Office had already tested both the millimetre-wave and X-ray body-scanners as part of an ongoing assessment of airport security and anti- terror measures.

 

But the security scare has caused national governments and airports to renew their interest in body-scanners. Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, where Abdulmutallab changed flights en route from Nigeria to Detroit, is to activate 17 scanners it bought two years ago for flights to the US, despite EU advice that there are privacy and human rights issues.

 

Last week the US Transportation Security Administration ordered $165m-worth of scanners, using both millimetre and X-ray technology, from L-3 Communications.

 

Qinetiq had developed a similar millimetre-wave body scanner, but is now developing a sophisticated "stand-off" scanner which does not pose any privacy issues as it does not show a body image. Materials hidden on a body reflect back signals, showing up as a red alert on screen. Kevin Murphy, product manager for physical security at Qinetiq, admitted this SPO system would also not have picked up the Christmas Day bomb, but insisted that it could be used as part of a "layered approach" to security in mass transportation, which would also include monitoring people's behaviour.

 

Mr Murphy echoed Mr Wallace's doubts over whether the millimetre-wave body scanners being discussed by the Government would have picked up Abdulmutallab's hidden explosive. He said: "It is conjecture whether or not these methods would have seen through clothing. I don't think anyone knows."

 

He added: "The solution is to acknowledge that there isn't a single technology out there that is an answer to the whole problem."

 

Each full body-scanner costs around £100,000. However, opinion is divided among aviation experts. Writing in The Independent on Sunday, Chris Yates, Aviation Security Editor of Jane's Information Group, says: "Body scanning (whether it be millimetre-wave or X-ray based and manufactured by any of the companies in this sector), has a significant role to play in enhancing UK airport security immediately.

 

"Body scanning is only half the story, though. The Government cannot ignore the liquid aspect any more. Liquid explosive became a high-agenda issue following the thwarted transatlantic bomb plot of 2006 and is clearly implicated in the attempted downing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253. If the Government skirts over this aspect it will be nothing short of a dereliction of duty."

 

On Friday, in an announcement on the Downing Street website, the Prime Minister said an urgent review of security at UK airports would be implemented.

 

Promising to react quickly to the "wake-up" call of last week's attempted atrocity, Mr Brown added: "In co-operation with President Obama and the Americans, we will examine a range of new techniques to enhance airport security systems beyond the traditional measures. These could include advancing our use of explosive trace technology, full body scanners and advanced X-ray technology."

 

A spokesman for BAA, which owns six UK airports, including Heathrow, said on Friday: "Any comprehensive review of airport security should involve government and the aviation industry, and should establish how a combination of technology, intelligence and the profiling of passengers can build a better defence against the unpredictable and changing threat from international terrorism."

 

Responding to Mr Wallace's claims, a DfT spokesman said: "Body-scanners are being assessed urgently as part of a package of measures to respond to the latest incident. Trials of body-scanners have already taken place and these are being assessed urgently as part of an immediate review of airport security."

 

In the US, the "pat-down" search used by security staff was derided as ineffective – because officials are forbidden from frisking sensitive areas. Analyst Michael Boyd said: "To have people hold up their arms and just pat them – like I'm really going to carry a bomb down there. You know where you're going to put it, and no one's going to go there."

 

Mr Brown has also convened a meeting for 28 January on the terror threat posed by Yemen, where Abdulmutallab is alleged to have undergone terrorist training.

 

In a fresh announcement yesterday, Downing Street announced an emergency cabinet committee meeting with senior ministers and intelligence chiefs to discuss the UK's response to the attempted attack.

 

No 10 and the White House have agreed to step up efforts to tackle the emerging threat from Yemen and Somalia.

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Are Airport Full Body Scanners A Health Menace?

 

Naked Capitalism

January 4, 2010

 

Health issue or no, I find these ever escalating encroachments on my person to be unwarranted

 

Full body scanning involves radiation. The medical profession has been pretty remiss about pointing out the dangers of radiation, even though radiation can cause cancer. That’s probably because a quite a few diagnostic tests involve the use of radiation, and they are too often cavalier about it (has any doctor about to give you an X-ray bothered asking how many you’ve had over your lifetime?) Yes, we’ve had some exceptions, like doctors arguing against the recent fad of annual full body CT scans because the dose is equal to that of several years of background radiation, but that posture is comparatively rare (one of my pet beefs has long been the until recent recommendation to get annual mammograms starting at age 40. Mammograms are a terrible test, with a high level of false positives and false negatives; a manual exam by an experienced practitioner has a much higher success rate of catching the fast-growing, dangerous cancers, but doesn’t fit the modern idea of what a test should look like. Oh, and all those radiologists have an installed base of equipment they need to pay off. Think that might have an effect on their view of the situation?)

 

The writing here (from NoWorldSystem) is sensationalistic. While it does cite medical experts, but does not provide data about the doses involved:

 

TSA Security Laboratory Director Susan Hallowell recently announced the agency’s intent to use back-scatter X-ray machines for passenger surveillance. These hugely expensive, closet-sized zappers can find the plastic bombs hidden in grandma’s underpants, while delivering a smacking dose of ionizing radiation to her breasts and thyroid gland.

 

Yves here. I hate to sound heartless, but I wouldn’t get too wound up about zapping older people. Unless they are aging jet-setters, they won’t get too many doses in what is left of their life. It’s younger people, particularly corporate road warriors and airline staff, who are at the most risk. Back to the details:

 

Virtually all passengers and airline crews who pass through airport screening checkpoints in the U.S. may soon be forced to submit to compulsory, whole-body X-ray exposure…

 

Officials must naturally defend compulsory passenger X-rays as harmless. But they are signing no guarantees because ionizing radiation in the X-ray spectrum damages and mutates both chromosomal DNA and structural proteins in human cells. If this damage is not repaired, it can lead to cancer. New research shows that even very low doses of X-ray can delay or prevent cellular repair of damaged DNA, raising questions about the safety of routine medical X-rays. Unborn babies can become grotesquely disfigured if their mothers are irradiated during pregnancy. Heavily X- rayed persons of childbearing age can sustain chromosomal damage, endangering offspring. Radiation damage is cumulative and each successive dose builds upon the cellular mutation caused by the last. It can take years for radiation damage to manifest pathology.

 

A leading U.S. expert on the biological effects of X-radiation is Dr. John Gofman, Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Gofman’s exhaustive research leads him to conclude that there is NO SAFE DOSE-LEVEL of ionizing radiation. His studies indicate that radiation from medical diagnostics and treatment is a causal co-factor in 50 percent of America’s cancers and 60 percent of our ischemic (blood flow blockage) heart disease. He stresses that the frequency with which Americans are medically X-rayed “makes for a significant radiological impact.”

 

This highly credentialed nuclear physicist states: “The fact, that X-ray doses are so seldom measured, reflects the false assumption that doses do not matter…[but] they do matter enormously. And each bit of additional dose matters, because any X-ray photon may be the one which sets in motion the high-speed, high energy electron which causes a carcinogenic or atherogenic [smooth muscle] mutation. Such mutations rarely disappear. The higher their accumulated number in a population, the higher will be the population’s mortality rates from radiation-induced cancer and ischemic heart disease.”

 

A report in the British medical journal Lancet noted that after breast mammograms were introduced in 1983, the incidence of ductal carcinoma (12 percent of breast cancer) increased by 328 percent, of which 200 percent was due to the use of mammography itself. A Lawrence Berkeley National Lab study has demonstrated that breast tissue is extremely susceptible to radiation-induced cancer, confirming warnings by numerous experts that mammograms can initiate the very cancers they may later identify. Dr. Gofman believes that medical radiation is a co-factor in 75 percent of breast cancer cases. So why would girls and women want their breast tissues irradiated every time they take a commercial flight?…

 

Airline pilots and cabin crews suffer a significant incidence of leukemia, skin and breast cancer due to chromosomal damage from ionizing cosmic radiation encountered during years of flying at high altitudes.

 

Dr. Gofman’s research reveals a dose-response relationship between medical X-rays and fatal heart disease, the number one killer of Americans. He found that X-radiation is a powerful atherogen, causing mutations in smooth muscle cells of coronary arteries. These radiation damaged cells are unable to process lipoproteins correctly, resulting in atherosclerotic plaques and mini tumors in the arteries. Radiation used to treat breast cancer can badly damage the heart.

 

As Dr. Gofman and other experts argue for improved diagnostic techniques and equipment to reduce medically necessary X-ray exposure, TSA gears up to impose frivolous, nonmusical exposure, even though conventional airline security measures have proven adequate since 9/11. To date, the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association have been silent about TSA’s sinister plan to deliver unlimited doses of carcinogenic, mutagenic, heart damaging radiation to the flying public. No health studies are planned to gauge short and long-term effects of the radiation TSA will deliver to inspect our innards

 

Yves here. Now the claim is made elsewhere that the radiation level is no biggie because the dose is lower than that needed to penetrate tissue:

 

The amount of radiation used during this scan is equal to 15 minutes of exposure to natural background radiation such as the sun’s rays. One scan emits less than 10 microrem, the unit used to measure radiation. Comparably, an hour on an airplane at a high altitude exposes a passenger to 300 microrem, and the average person is exposed to 1,000 microrem of radiation over the course of a normal day.

 

Yves here. Note that even with this cheery info, the doctors asked about it were not fully on board with the “no risk” posture:

 

Dr. Albert J. Fornace Jr., an expert in molecular oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center, said such a low dose was inconsequential, even for pregnant women. “Obviously, no radiation is even better than even a very low level,” Dr. Fornace said. “But this is trivial.” But David J. Brenner, a professor of radiation oncology at Columbia University, said that even though the risk for any individual was extremely low, he would still avoid it.

 

Yves here. One concern is the almost certain lack of monitoring of the output of these machines once installed (as in it could wind up being much in a malfunctioning machine). And for frequent fliers and airline crew, I’m not sure any additional radiation, even a seemingly small amount, is a good idea. The radiation exposures that crews and passengers get is worst at high latitudes (I understand NY-London is worst than most). And they get a fair amount to begin with. The WHO gives some parameters:

 

The overall effect for flight crew and travellers is an increased radiation exposure during flights as compared to staying on the ground. Flight crew passes up to 1000 hours per year on board of flying planes, which leads to annual effective radiation doses in the range of 2 to 5 milliSievert (mSv) for most crew. Occasional travellers obtain a fraction of this value through less frequent leisure or occupational flights. In comparison, the natural background radiation amounts to 2 to 3 mSv per year at most geographical locations worldwide.

 

Yves again. And yet again, the government-private sector revolving door means that the makers of scanners have the former head of Homeland Security making their case (hat tip reader I on the Ball Patriot). So whether these scanners are a plus or not, we seem destined to get them:

 

Since the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff has given dozens of media interviews touting the need for the federal government to buy more full-body scanners for airports.

 

Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, speaks at the ceremonial swearing-in of Paul J. Fishman, US Attorney for the District of New Jersey at Rutgers Law School in Newark, N.J., Monday, Dec. 14, 2009.

 

What he has made little mention of is that the Chertoff Group, his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines. The relationship drew attention after Chertoff disclosed it on a CNN program Wednesday, in response to a question.

 

An airport passengers’ rights group on Thursday criticized Chertoff, who left office less than a year ago, for using his former government credentials to advocate for a product that benefits his clients.

 

“Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive,” said Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, which opposes the use of the scanners.

 

Chertoff’s advocacy for the technology dates back to his time in the Bush administration. In 2005, Homeland Security ordered the government’s first batch of the scanners — five from California-based Rapiscan Systems.

 

Yves again. Frankly, health issue or no, I find these ever escalating encroachments on my person to be unwarranted, but don’t get me started on the civil liberties issues.

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and just like the 'shoe bomber' has now made shoes a mandatory security focus.....

 

and just like the 'liquid bomber' has now made all liquids a mandatory security focus.....

 

this new 'crotch bomber' has now made all naked human bodies a mandatory security focus!

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I agree, these things are fucked up and only make matters worse.

I'd rather take my risks flying with mr. durkah durkah mohammad jihad

than be scanned.

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So are full body MRIs/CT scans of kids CP too?

 

Forgive me for saying so, but the line of reasoning used in the UK is a little troubling and raises other concerns.

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