Sun, Jul 10, 2011
Passengers Will Be Able To Choose Pat-Downs As Alternative
After Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to detonate
plastic explosives hidden in his underwear on Northwest Flight 253
on Christmas Day, 2009, the US Department of Homeland Security
quickly hastened the deployment of invasive body scanners at U.S.
airports, despite concerns over privacy, propriety and passenger
health. DHS also stressed to European partners the need for better
detection of hidden explosives, but the European Union resisted,
pending further study.
On Wednesday, that study culminated in the approval by the
European Parliament to allow its 27 member nations to deploy the
scanners, but lawmakers there want a program with passenger
protections above those in the US.
The French news service AFP reports the conditional approval
granted in Europe applies only to scanners which show a "stick
figure," not those capable of producing the detailed images
displayed by machines in the U.S. Passengers in Europe will also
have the option to undergo a hand search if they don't want to pass
through the machines. Europe will also limit scanners to those
using non-ionizing radiation, or forms of radiation which do not
risk altering DNA.
Several European governments have been conducting tests of
scanners for use at airport checkpoints, including Britain, France,
Germany, Italy and Finland. The Netherlands got attention last year
for testing airport checkpoint scanners which could display generic
body images with any suspected threats highlighted.
The European Parliament reserved the option to review its
decision in three months. Abdulmutallab is expected to go on trial
on at least six charges in October.
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