Is this an invasion of my privacy?
Does this contravene my (newly acquired) human rights in terms of the Human Rights Act 1998 or indeed any rights which I may have under the European Convention of Human Rights?
Travelling from Edinburgh to Brussels last week we passed briefly through Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. This is one of the world’s airports where they are trying out what has been called a virtual strip search device. No rubber gloves were involved. You take off all normal outerwear as usual at airport security and then stand on the two painted footprints inside a perspex booth.
Suddenly, you realise that what looks like a door is in fact a moving screen which whizzes round and back and you have been subjected to a full body scan. It was difficult to see that you could object to this procedure in any way – it seemed to be a slow moving security queue in much the same way as ever. (I still get annoyed when someone seems to be slower than me at taking off their coat, unpacking their laptop and removing all metal objects from their pockets.)
According to the Airport Technology Website it is debatable whether this is an unwarranted intrusion into your privacy and thus should be banned under human rights legislation.
The EU Parliament discussed the issue last month, and they urged the European Commission to carry out research as to whether the scanners might in fact be harmful.
In the US they are using the wave imaging technology only on random travellers on a voluntary basis at present. Some passengers who choose not to go through the scanner might be subjected to the usual form of frisking instead. There, the American Civil Liberties Union want the procedure to be protected from any potential threats of abuse. Even though facial features are not entirely visible the outline of the “naked” body is quite clear. Celebrities might risk some intrusion into their privacy if the technology is used by unscrupulous types. Some of the rest of us might just escape that threat!
The rather disappointing thing was that I could not see the image afterwards. Oh well I never like photos of myself anyway! Apparently the images are destroyed as soon as they have been used for this purpose – but is this another case of Big Brother?