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Strict safeguards needed for airport body scanners, say MEPs

TRAN Press release - Transport24-05-2011 - 14:12
 

Body scanning should be voluntary for passengers at EU airports, argued Parliament's Transport Committee on Tuesday. If scanners are used, health and fundamental rights must be safeguarded along with personal data, dignity and privacy. No body images should be seen and, for health reasons, no X-ray-based scanners should be allowed at EU airports, say MEPs. They also restate their view that the ban on carrying liquids on planes should be lifted by 2013.


The European Commission intends to propose new rules this summer that would add body scanners to the list of EU-authorised methods for screening passengers. Some Member States (the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France and Finland), have already tested such scanners.  Parliament will have a veto right over the new rules once they are drafted but at this stage MEPs are sending an advance signal of their wishes.


Acknowledging that body scanners would enhance aviation security, MEPs "ask the Member States to deploy technology which is the least harmful for human health" and which addresses privacy concerns. Meanwhile, "scanners using ionising radiation should be prohibited in the EU", they believe. 


Passengers should be given the right to refuse body scanning and submit to alternative screening methods that guarantee the same level of effectiveness while respecting their rights and dignity, says the committee. "Such a refusal should not give rise to any suspicion of the passenger".


Random selection should be applied and passengers must not be selected to pass through a body scanner on the basis of discriminatory criteria, stress MEPs, adding that "any form of profiling based on, for example, sex, race, colour, ethnicity, genetic features, language, religion or belief is unacceptable". Particular attention should be paid to the welfare of pregnant women, children, elderly people as well as people with disabilities, implanted or other medical devices or those carrying essential medicines.


Member States should also provide extra control points and security staff to ensure that passengers are not slowed down by the need to pass through body scanners, says the Transport Committee.


No body images, no storage


To guarantee human dignity, privacy and intimacy, "only stick figures should be used" and "no body images may be produced", argue MEPs. They add that the images "must be destroyed right after the person has passed through the security control and may not be stored". Furthermore, "the technology used must not have the capabilities to store or save data".


Financing aviation security


Security charges should be transparent, they should be used only to cover security costs, and Member States which decide to apply more stringent measures should finance the ensuing additional costs, maintains the committee. It also recommends that every passenger’s ticket show the cost of security measures.


Ban on liquids should be lifted in 2013


The committee "upholds its standpoint that the ban on carrying liquids should come to an end in 2013". It invites Member States and airports to "ensure that adequate technology is available in good time so that the scheduled end of the ban on carrying liquids does not have the effect of undermining security".


Stricter checks on air cargo


MEPs also call on the Commission and Member States to strengthen checks on air cargo, especially on that originating in third countries, particularly where it is carried on passenger planes. Pointing out that "100% scanning of cargo is not practicable", they ask the Commission to devise criteria for identifying high-risk cargo. 


One-stop security


MEPs call for international coordination of aviation security, with mutual recognition of such measures and one-stop security so that passengers, luggage and cargo at EU airports are screened only once.


The own-initiative report, drafted by Luis de Grandes Pascual (EPP, ES), was adopted by the committee with 37 votes in favour, 2 against and 3 abstentions. The plenary vote is planned for 23 June.


In the chair: Brian Simpson (S&D, UK)

REF. : 20110523IPR19946
 
 
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