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back to article Child porn threat to airport's 'virtual strip search' scanners

Manchester Airport has rejected claims its new body scanners will fall foul of child pornography laws, claiming that because they use X-rays "they do not make an image". The machines use low doses of radiation to deliver a 3D black and white scan of volunteer passengers' bodies to a human operator sat in front of a screen. The …

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FAIL

My heart goes out to the security guards at Manchester

Given the state of Britain's obesity epidemic, imagine having to look at all those sweltering sweaty and swollen cadavers-on-the-cheapest-flight-available scooting off to Ibiza all day long. I further imagine one of those guards' brothers works for this ARCHIE organisation and wants to help his brother out.

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Anonymous Coward

Case Law

R. v. Smith and Jayson [2002 EWCA Crim 683] states that downloading an image onto the computer screen is an offence of making, even if a copy is not saved onto a disk. Once an image is downloaded, the length of time it remains on the screen is irrelevant.

From what the image is downloaded from is not specified and of little relevance, the presumption would be that this also apply to a video camera/ webcam directly connected to a monitor or indeed an X-ray scanner.

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Anonymous Coward

'...the Protection of Children Act specifically outlaws "pseudo-photographs"'

I hope nobody in the UK is planning a Balthus retrospective...

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Alert

Xrays!!!

Err, X-Rays? Is that safe? I'm not sure I'd want to be X-Rayed very often (different if you've broken something, or something medical is suspected). Routine use of X-Rays just sounds like a bad idea.

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Anonymous Coward

Let's see an example then

If they're citing the nature of the image captured, then can we have a few examples? And also, if it anything like their current system, the monitors used by staff are clearly visible by other commuters in the queue - presumably this will be changed? Oh and presumably, you'll get male/female variants so that women can go through a scanner being monitored by a woman?

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Stop

Prime example of...

...the fact that just because you can doesn't mean that you should. Seriously, I don't like the idea myself and given the kind of sniggering jobsworth oiks that I've seen running security checks at airports I don't see why anyone would, children or not.

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Not a photograph? Not an argument.

Wasn't there something saying that even cartoons were covered under the new laws?

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Stop

Someone notify the Paedofinder General.

"During the 12-month trial children will be scanned if their parents give consent. The policy has prompted the children's civil rights group Action on Rights for Children (ARCH) to write to bosses, insisting they will break the law."

It sounds like that policy could be an incitement to make an indecent image of a child.

If so, then the person who wrote it has already committed an offence.

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Thumb Up

Common Sense!!

At last an organisation fighting this intrusion of privacy. It's bad enough that adults will be forced the indignity of having to go through this system, but I would *never* let my children go through one. And if children are to become exempt, then there is no point putting them in as the Terrorists will just use children. I'd rather be patted down and use 10 different metal & drug sniffing detectors than go through this!

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Stop

No Trust

It's issues of trust.

Do we trust people to not to take guns, knifes and bombs on to trains? - no. Fair enough.

Do we trust security guards who are normally trusted to feel up children but instead see an x-rays to turn into raving paedophiles and seek out the children they have seen? well it seems ARCH don't. Do they make doctors wear blindfolds? or is it because they don't see a picture that it's ok?

I think it's more to do with the prudes that think that if someone sees them naked on a photo by an unknown person that part of their soul has been stolen in some way.

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Ergo

Anyone keen for martyrdom would probably be delighted to take their sprog with them... then the question becomes is that kid just fat - or packing? Er...

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Alert

Morph or Virtualize the image?

Rather than making an actual image (albeit just a silhouette) of a subject's nude body, wouldn't it be possible to morph that image onto an appropriately-sized silhouette of someone who volunteered to be a template? A library of a hundred or so templates should suffice. Then those who object to a silhouette of their particular body being viewed should be placated. This also has the advantage that the operators could not be distracted by an every-one-different image of the persons being scanned, and would perforce have to concentrate on the important differences (the concealed objects that the scanner is there to detect).

Of course, this still needs some images of the body of a child ... if such a template silhouette falls foul of the child porn laws, then that law is an ass. I think they were told that, but they passed it anyway.

What do they do in the medical books that paediatricians study? Are they also all breaking this law?

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Gates Halo

anything that derives...from a photo or image of a real child is already subject to the law

So says El Reg

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/01/19/evil_cartoon_badness/

Oi scamps, get on msn. I need to talk to you about stu [-]

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Only children?

I don't want my own genitals imaged any more than I would want my children's. Thinking about children's privacy is important, but why aren't we more concerned about our own privacy? I for one will by going through the opt-out queue.

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FAIL

OMG!!

Oh my gawd think of the children...

So you'd rather have them patted down by a complete stranger than have someone watch a poor b&w scan

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Big Brother

Image

The argument that it isn't an image doesn't stand up... if they found a collection of these 'images' on a perps computer, they would prosecute.

Although I must say that when I first saw the technology there were 2 unrelated thoughts that went through my head...

1: where can I get one?

2: children's-rights campaigners will have a field day.

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Stop

When last I checked...

a photograph was an image created by exposing a sensitised surface (be it film or CCD) to electromagnetic radiation.

The pictures created by X-ray machines, whether in hospital or the Manchester scanner, are photographs.

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Irresistible force vs. immovable object

Wow! The OMGPEDOSAREEVERYWHERE crowd finally comes to clash with the OMGTERRORISTSAREEVERYWHERE crowd. Both have proven able to legislate absurd restrictions of freedom for no actual benefit, based on irrational fear alone. One can only wish they'd kill each other over this issue.

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Silver badge

And the rest of us?

"ARCH has campaigned against the use of body scanners on children, arguing they are disproportionately intrusive and remove their right to dignity, particularly given many are sensitive about their bodies."

But adults are OK, naturally. How could we possibly object to a full body X-ray every time we want to get on a flight?

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Alert

Wait, what?

"Making an indecent image of a child is a strict liability offence under the Protection of Children Act"

Got it, naked children are indecent, regardless of circumstances, security concerns, whatever. All children should be sewn into their clothes at birth and only let out when they reach 18, for their own protection and to protect adults everywhere from being corrupted and turning into raging paedos.

Hell, better make that 30.

This is what you get when terrorist hysteria and child "protection" hysteria mix. Can we just have everyone involved on both sides put down for their own good?

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WTF?

Yes...but...

Nudity != Obscenity.

A photograph of a naked child isn't by definition obscene or illegal. If you look here:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/h_to_k/indecent_photographs_of_children/index.html#PROCEDURE_PRE-TRIAL

even Level One requires "obscene posing". Now I don't imagine a child will be doing that in the scanner.

Seriously, it's political correctness GONE MAD! Sure, the child (or indeed adult) should be able to refuse to stand in a booth for a few seconds, but then they'll have to be groped instead. I know what I'd rather.

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Silver badge

Complete red herring

It matters not one jot whether this technology be used on children or not, the whole debate should be about whether the expense of these machines can be justified.

Over the last, just for the sake of argument, twenty years how many passengers have boarded a plane at Manchester airport and hijacked it or posed a threat with anything they have carried on board?

Out of that, I'm assuming, extraordinarily large number, how many would have been prevented by the use of this waste of technology for technologies sake?

Main threat to aircraft is poor ground security, airport staff (especially sub-sub-...-contract cleaners who have access to aircraft) and hold luggage.

Spend money where it will make a difference, not just give a contract to friends of whoever is in power at the time.

I see a further downside to this as the security staff will be paying far too much attention to the body scanners and less to the carry-on scanners.

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Stop

Friggin' eck!

A lot of so called 'security' guff (like ID cards etc) are a lot of baloney, but for once I think being able to scan people and see any concealed weapons sounds like a sensible thing to be able to do.

Now if people are going to start bleating on about possible peedo uses then really they do need to get some sort of grip!

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Pint

exerlent

provent treoists crowd vs the think of the children crowd 3 rounds 1 KO

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Unhappy

Good for the children

Now how do I, as an adult not protected by the law, stop these people from ogling me?

Are we allowed no privacy?

Not thrilled about this.

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Bronze badge

Eh?

"A spokesman for Manchester Airport said he wasn't yet aware of ARCH's letter of complaint, but argued the scans did not amount to an "image" in legal terms."

So live TV is not an image until somebody records it? Cock.

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FAIL

While I doubt the effectiveness...

While I doubt the effectiveness of these scanners - they depend a lot on operator training and vigilance - they clearly fall foul of our culture's "Stop looking....at my child/policeman/building." policy.

I suspect you now have to sit at the beach or poolside wearing a government certified blindfold!

Interestingly - I presume the alternative to scanning the children must be to "pat them down" which should lead to lots of doubtful people queuing for the job! The alternative being to allow children to be used as mules by any dodgy plane users. Just tape the liquids/bombs/drugs/guns to a child. Neat. Glad to see ARCH have thought this one through.

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Silver badge

It's OK I'm a doctor

A simple solution, the child's doctor is allowed to see the sprog naked

All you have to do is staff each security checkpoints exclusively with Male/Female doctors (as appropriate) - problem solved!

And it will reduce chronic unemployment in the medical profession.

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Doesn't constitute an image?

You're shining electromagnetic radiation at an object, and picking up the reflected radiation using a sensor (camera) to produce a human readable image on a screen.

Doesn't matter what type or frequency that initial radiation is, whether it's microwave, infrared, human visible wavelengths, X-rays, etc, you're still producing an image on a screen.

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Thumb Down

typical.....

This story would have been a non issue if the media had not blown it out of all proportion. DJs talking about it on the radio, without full facts, tons of mis-reporting over the past few days, etc etc.

The dam scanner may as well be hooked straight into the UKs Facebook profiles, each image being auto uploaded, tagged and set as your profile image.

That's how much it has been exaggerated, people obviously prefer terror attacks, bring on the bombs!

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Thumb Down

Right...

So naturist websites are hosting illegal photos, and colonies are groups of perverts.

They might be looked upon a little oddly in winter, but I can't see the logic myself...

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Black Helicopters

Paedo Paranoiacs vs Security Paranoiacs

If only there was some way they could both not get what they want.

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Bronze badge

So now bombs move indoors

Given that we will all have our heretofore right to be able to have our persons private removed by these machines, so that the elderly, those with colostomy bags, those with artificial limbs etc. now much face the shame of strangers looking at their naked bodies (just what I want in my perfect society) under dubious claims that it will stop terrorists, and that this is now widely known, any sensible suicide bomber will just take the anal route for the transportation of explosives. A few of them on board, not minding the sharing of bodily, erm, fluids, could get together and, ah, pool their loads.

I would rather be patted down by someone I can look int he eye, talk to and, if necessary, refuse to, than have to wear tinfoil underwear.

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Megaphone

Nudity does not equal Obscenity

An image of a nude child is not per se obscene or controlled.

For an image of a nude child to be obscene it must consist of at least erotic posing, even with no other sexual activity. Standing in an x-ray booth is not erotic posing.

Invasion of privacy - maybe. Increasing one's annual radiation burden - maybe (particularly if you come from Cornwall or Aberdeen or some other granite rich area). Child porn - clearly not.

Please get a grip on reality.

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Boffin

@Xrays!!!

They're not X-Ray machines like the ones hospitals use; they're a different technology that gives a much lower radiation dose.

The Register has a good article on safety here:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/18/blunkett_xray_blank/

That says the dosage is about 0.05 uSv per scan. British Airways say that you'll be exposed to about 5 uSv per hour during a long haul flight, due to natural cosmic background radiation (which is stronger at altitude because there's less atmosphere to absorb it)*. That means that in 1 minute flying you get more radiation exposure than in a single scan.

So if you're not worried about flying, you probably shouldn't worry about (the health effects of) the scan.

(* Source: http://www.britishairways.com/travel/healthcosmic/public/en_gb)

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Unhappy

All joking aside

the issue here is potential pedo's.

If there is enough to letch then that is enough. If you got caught looking through frosted glass (bathroom window) at a underage would that be classed as a sexual crime.

Damn sure it would but because this is tied to security we are supposed to forgive this invasion.

You just sit in front of this machine all day checking out everybody's bits & tits,

ohh teens. no flabby bits here I'll take and extra close look at these fwoor .... see if I can guess how old they are before they get to Passport control.

Amazing the invasions they will push through on a terrorist ticket.

Why do they need this when they have metal scanners.

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WTF?

'Making'

"R. v. Smith and Jayson [2002 EWCA Crim 683] states that downloading an image onto the computer screen is an offence of making, even if a copy is not saved onto a disk. Once an image is downloaded, the length of time it remains on the screen is irrelevant."

It's proven very useful, if totally nonsensical, too, this charge of 'making'. Sounds so compelling, don't you think, when read out on a charge sheet? The Cops know it's a scam, as do the courts, but they can't let go of a good thing. Such a small word, 'making', but so very powerful when (mis)used in such a way.

Airport Security staff will doubtless get exemption from prosecution if this scheme goes ahead. Police and forensics already enjoy it. How else would the likes of CEOP be able to maintain it's very well-publicised 500GB+ store of kiddy pr0n (the largest in Western Europe, apparently)?

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Anonymous Coward

Don't see what all the fuss is about

I mean, haven't we all got a pair of x-ray specs that we bought from Whizzer & Chips back in the 70s?

Don't tell the authorities, though, as we don't all want to be branded paedos.

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WTF?

Errr...

Wouldn't the X-ray go straight through all the OMGTEHPEADOEZAREEVERYWHEREONFACEBOOKWTFBBQ!!!1! body parts to bounce off inoffensive bones and any other radio opaque objects?

I was under the impression that flesh and muscle, including genitals, were radio transparent.

Or am I missing something here?

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lead pants

just get customs to pass around a shared lead fig leaf and be done with it :|

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But..

...I can't be the only person who doesn't want to be seen naked every time they want to get on a flight, can I?

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Grenade

@HansG: "people obviously prefer terror attacks"

Utter "straw man" tosh. No, people prefer not to be gratuitously irradiated.

There is a much better technology, sold by the same company, that uses passive millimetre wave receivers to achieve the same objective. In other words, sensing the radiation that the body itself naturally produces, rather than actively aiming ionizing radiation at the subject.

Frankly, I couldn't care less if someone in a locked room sees my (anonymised) genitals, or indeed my kids' (so long as the images aren't retained), I just don't want to add any unnecessary extra radiation to what we'll already be getting on the flight. I don't think that's unreasonable.

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Alert

TERAHERTZ

It's not X-Rays, its terahertz radiation. They are between microwave and infrared. Nowhere near as bad for you as X-Rays* which are between ultraviolet and gamma radiation.

Why can no one get this right? I'd still rather they weren't aim at my balls though.

*probably, no one's been playing with them for long enough to be really sure.

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@ Filippo

'Wow! The OMGPEDOSAREEVERYWHERE crowd finally comes to clash with the OMGTERRORISTSAREEVERYWHERE crowd. Both have proven able to legislate absurd restrictions of freedom for no actual benefit, based on irrational fear alone. One can only wish they'd kill each other over this issue.'

Of course the real joy of this story is that both groups are running the Home Office. Any chance of getting the Home Secretary to explain the situation? If so, can we have warning, I'll want to set TiVo so that I can enjoy it time and time again.

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FAIL

It is an image but...

This is so going to fail in court.

1) It needs to be obscene not just nude to be illigal

2) If this counted you might as well say a X-ray or MMR scan of children are also illegal

ARCH need to STFU!

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OMFG

Presumably then, if you take the "I'd prefer to be patted down" option, they can't object if you get your cock out.

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Silver badge

It is different for adults.

I've been through these scanners loads of times. They used to test them at Heathrow before T5. Adults can give informed consent, at least that is the legal position. People should be given the information that these scanners can see under your clothes, it should then be up to you. When they were testing them I used to like to go throw the test because they then let you jump the queue. If some pervy security guard wants to look at me, thats their look out. You could say no then asked.

With kids, they can not legally make an informed consent.

The alternative it not normally a hands on search. Normal you use a hand held scanner. If this picks up any anomaly then you are asked to remove it.

I can't remember the last time I was subjected to a hands on search.

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airports..

Of course, when I actually get my cock out at the airport there's no end of problems. It's political correctness gone mad.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Paedo Paranoiacs vs Security Paranoiacs

>If only there was some way they could both not get what they want.

Then they'd be masochistic paranoiacs

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Anonymous Coward

Not XRays, they are millimeter wave scanners

See obligatory wiki article - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millimeter_wave_scanner

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