It’s sure to cause a storm, but two women have been barred from flying out of the UK for failing to submit to full body scanning:
Two women, one a Muslim, have become the first people to be barred from boarding a flight because they refused to go through a full-body airport scanner.
Manchester airport confirmed today that the women, who were booked to fly to Islamabad with Pakistan International Airlines, were told they could not get on the plane after they refused to be scanned for medical and religious reasons.
The women had been selected at random, said the airport.
The Muslim woman decided to forfeit her ticket and left her luggage at the airport. Her companion also left the airport saying she did not go through the scanner on medical grounds because she had an infection.
The full-body scanners were introduced at Manchester and Heathrow last month after the Christmas Day bombing attempt in Detroit. The £80,000 Rapiscan machines show a clear body outline and have been described by critics as the equivalent of “virtual strip searching”.
While American transport authorities offer passengers a choice between going through the full-body scanner or going through a metal-arch scanner and a physical search, the British government has said that a refusal to go through the body scanner would bar passengers from boarding aircraft.
I’m not sure what to say, other than isn’t this the most blatant violation of Article 2 of Protocol 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights? There has been no debate about the introduction of full body scanners at airports – what advantage do they actually provide, against the level of the real threat we face after using pre-existing technologies, scanners and security procedures? Yet again we’re all presumed to be terrorists unless we prove otherwise. Hopefully a legal challenge will be soon be launched against their introduction, and to indeed to rescue the right of privacy which this government holds in such low regard.
The German Pirate Party has held a flashmob at Berlin’s Tegel airport, in response to its unquestioning adoption of new, intrusive body scanners after the abortive attempt to blow up the flight in Detroit at Christmas. And they’ve kindly shared their ‘fleshmob’ with the world:
(via Privacy International)
They suggest it’s about giving the impression of improved security – I would tend to agree but it’s not just a sop to public opinion. It’s a further, needless intrusion into the private realm of the individual for no need. If the intelligence agencies had done their job properly – Abdulmutallab’s father had alerted the American security services to his son’s behaviour for goodness’ sake – he would never have ended up on that plane. Why should the rest of us suffer yet further attacks on our privacy because ‘intelligence’ officials can’t do their jobs properly? Well done, Piratenpartei!