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Thursday, 14 October 2010

An Open Letter to Manchester Airport About Body-Scanners

Dear Mr Harrison

Body Scanners at Manchester Airport

I write with regard to the announcement today that all three of Manchester Airport’s terminals will be permanently equipped with body scanners, and further that it is absolutely compulsory for passengers to pass through them. Refusal to do, as I believe, will result in the passenger being prohibited from boarding his/her flight.

Whilst I accept that the vast majority of people, in the interests of expedition, would prefer the body-scanners, surely these have not been introduced for mere populism. Of course, there are also the strong security benefits too.

As I am sure you are aware, there are however concerns about privacy, racial (and gender) profiling, and abuse of powers. The privacy issues are the most controversial, and I ask whether there has been due regard to children, the elderly and transsexuals who fear obloquy. Secondly, but no less germane, is the issue of racial and gender profiling. Can you assure passengers the scanners will be used in a lawful, proportionate and sensitive manner based on rational criteria rather than racial or religious bias? Similarly, that they will not be used by voyeuristic security staff?

Lastly, abuse of powers and the retention of the images. Will there be any legislation passed (primary or, more likely, subordinate) which deals specifically with the retention of such images?

I fully support any counter-terrorist measure which is undertaken to protect the citizen’s right to life. Nevertheless, the right to privacy is another human right, and I seek confirmation that this right has been fully considered and appreciated.

If you are amenable, I would be happy to come to the airport to talk to you personally about the efficacy of the scanners, and the other issues in this letter.

Kindest regards.

Yours faithfully

Zak Golombeck

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