Two Muslim women who refused to go through the full-body scanners at Manchester Airport have become the first people to be prevented from flying after raising objections to this intrusive new technology.
As you may have read, Big Brother Watch has offered to help them fight this decision in court should they wish to challenge the ruling.
As a result of this, a supporter has been in touch to highlight a very strange passage of text from the Department for Transport's January 2010 document, 'Interim Code of Practice for the Acceptable Use of Advanced Imaging Technology (Body Scanners) in an Aviation Security Environment' (available here).
The policy must include a requirement that the equipment is sited in such a way to ensure that the Security Officer(s) conducting analysis of the image (the screener) must not be able to see the person whose image they are viewing and the Security Officer(s) resolving any issues identified by the body scanner should not be able to see the image of the person being searched. A person selected for scanning may request that the screen reader is of the same sex as the person. (p.3)
Can anyone spot the catch-22?
In order to protect our privacy the DfT wants to prevent the 'screener' from being able to see the 'screenee'. Yet the DfT has also said that we are entitled to request that the screener is of our same gender.
In practice this is completely contradictory and simply can't work. Therefore I can only assume that if I, for example, was to make the request, the airport authorities would assure me that the screener was also male and it would be up to me to take them at their word.
So they're relying on our trust...bit late for that methinks.
By Dylan Sharpe