Airport scanners violate rights: UN official

A senior official in the United Nations has warned that the growing use of full body scanners at airports breaches individual rights.

Martin Scheinin, the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur, said the scanners are more of a political response to terrorist attacks than a carefully designed security measure.

He added that the technology which intrudes excessively into individual privacy is also ineffective in preventing terrorism.

Not only are they “ineffective in detecting a genuine terrorist threat” but they also create “a false feeling of security and allow the real terrorists to adapt their tactics to the technology in use.”

Scheinin also told journalists that although the scanners violate human rights generally, there are “particular sensitivities in respect of women, certain religions and certain cultural backgrounds.”

The top official, who has been in charge of monitoring the impact of anti-terror measures on individual freedoms for the last five years, suggested that other existing detection technologies which do not harm privacy should be used instead.

Scheinin’s comments come just days after the US Transportation Security Administration announced that eleven more airports will begin using the technology soon.

The full-body scanners, otherwise known as the “virtual strip searching,” see through clothing to produce images of the whole body.

The plan to use the device at airports was introduced after the failed Christmas Day bombing of a US-bound airliner by a young Nigerian man.


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