Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Airport body scanners, ineffective, but raise radiation question

ARPANSA’s safety advisory council said the use of radiation in non-medical situations was considered “a planned exposure”, and any public benefits must be clearly proven before deployment.

Sacrificing privacy without ensuring airport security The Australian,  Karen Dearne,  October 26, 2010 THE federal government is trying to allay privacy and health fears over its $28.5 million plan for virtual strip-search scanners at airports.

The announcement in February of the scanners by then prime minister Kevin Rudd and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, hard on the heels of a visit from US Homeland Security chief Jane Holl Lute, took local radiation safety and privacy experts by surprise.

We will introduce a range of new screening technologies for departing international passengers in 2011,” Mr Rudd said then.

“These include the latest body scanners, next-generation multi-view X-ray machines and bottle scanners capable of detecting liquid-based explosives.”

The issue has slipped under the radar since funding was allocated in the federal budget. It is being handled by the Office of Transport Security, which tested the controversial “backscatter” machines at Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne airports in late 2008.

The “naked” images of passengers seen by screeners provoked a privacy backlash.

A spokesman for Mr Albanese said the government had not yet made a decision on the type of scanner to be introduced, as this was subject to further consideration of health and privacy issues.

“The department has been discussing the safety of body scanners with the government’s radiation regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency,” he said yesterday.

“The use of X-ray scanners at airports will also have to be authorised by state and territory radiation regulators.”

While the technology is being used in several US and British airports, public health and security experts remain divided on its safety and efficacy.

Victoria’s deputy privacy commissioner, Anthony Bendall, has warned that body scanners are an example of what US security expert Bruce Schneier calls “security theatre”.

“They give the illusion of safety without actually making us safer,” Dr Bendall said.

“The devices cannot detect low-density materials hidden under clothing such as liquid, powder or thin plastics. Nor can they detect materials of any density hidden in body cavities. In other words, they sacrifice our privacy without ensuring our security.”…..

According to ARPANSA, it was not consulted before Mr Rudd’s announcement and there is currently no international consensus on the safety of the devices.

ARPANSA’s safety advisory council said the use of radiation in non-medical situations was considered “a planned exposure”, and any public benefits must be clearly proven before deployment.

Sacrificing privacy without ensuring airport security | The Australian

Advertisements

October 26, 2010 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: