back to article Airport rethinks strip-scanner for kids

Manchester Airport will be taking legal advice on proposals to send children through its new X-ray scanners. This is a change from its position, reported in The Register yesterday, that they did not believe the images created by the new scanning technology (the slightly unfortunately named Rapiscan) would fall foul of child …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    when they deem it unsuitable for children...

    ... can adults then claim that they themselves have defined it as making "Indecent" images, so why should they be allowed to make "Indecent" images of adults?

  2. jabuzz

    Radiation Protection

    What I want to know is what are the radiation protection issues surrounding this. You simply don't get to dose people like this without *REALLY* good reason, and speeding up a security scan does not fit the bill.

    So apart from making potentially indecent images, there are far more important reasons of safety to be very wary of letting anyone, especially children through it.

  3. exit...quit...bye...quitbye.ctrl-C..ctrlX.ctrl-alt-X...aarrrr*slam*

    Is it a good sign?

    Is it a good sign I have no idea which "certain form of NSFW art" is meant with raising arms to a near salute?

    I think it is.

    Envy me, those who know! ;)

  4. Andy Enderby 1


    ".....they did not believe the images created by the new scanning technology (the slightly unfortunately named Rapiscan) would fall foul of child pornography laws, because they use X-rays and therefore "they do not make an image."

    This is a use of an imaging technology, that is an image on a screen right ? Fetch the clue by four.

    How long until failure to turn up at the terminal starkers, with no luggage of any description, (although you'll still be allowed to shop 'til you drop at the terminal of course) will be grounds for being denied your flight eh ?

    The terrorists won, albeit only with the assistance of our "beloved" political leaders, they've made travel by air an ever increasing pain in the arse.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "All Manchester security staff are security and CRB-checked to the highest level." And we all know what those are worth don't we *points out two recent nursery workers* paedophiles don't come with signs.

    The situation has nothing to do with intent, seen as the crime is "strict liability" the fact that the images are for security purposes means very little, just as if the image is to convert into fairies for the parents to put on their wall. Even having parental permission is meaningless.

    Manchester airport can't allow under 18s to go through the scanner without getting concrete guarantees and quite likely a reworking of the law not to be so fucking stupid.

    Otherwise they're putting their staff in the line of fire.

    The irony is they can pat down, and I suspect if it is moved to the next level a more in depth search could be performed and as long as there were no images it wouldn't be a crime.

    Sadly the law is broken, protects nobody, and puts a large number of people at risk of prosecution.

    It isn't the only example of stupidity, the new vetting process, the child minding laws (that have required rewriting, which interestingly I think will be at odds with the vetting law), various pornography laws and proposed rewriting of laws to include the rights of drawings and, ecrb checks (where rumour can be used to refuse jobs.)

    None of which will help children and all of which will find innocent people in prison or denied work.

    Because as I said before people that hurt children often seem completely normal, and are the kind of person you'd trust with you kid.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    ... a pose that devotees of a certain form of NSFW art ...

    I thought i was fairly knowledgeable when it came to NSFW art, but the only thing that springs to mind is the vitruvian man.

    But.. that can't be it, can it ?

    Or does it have anything to do with Poser ?

    (Paris, because she would know)

    As for the Manchester policy now.. it is touch but don't look ?

    Yeah, this'll work.

  7. dunncha
    Thumb Up

    Does this mean...

    That all the female operators at Manchester Airport will be still be able to look at my willie.

    Thank goodness for that

  8. Mike007

    CRB checked?

    sort of like those people currently plastered all over the newspapers, who were also "CRB checked to the highest level"?

  9. Wibble
    Thumb Down

    What about adults?

    Not sure I feel comfortable having my privacy invaded in such an intrusive way.

    At least if they're patting you down you can slap them.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    It may seem stupid but

    rather than checking with self-rightious charities, Manchester Airport should check with oh I dont know - maybe the police or hell, people that study the law for a living... just a thought

  11. John Robson Silver badge


    Oh ffs - can I object to being made a porn star then?

  12. D Moss Esq

    Wisdom, confusion and magic.

    Congratulations for getting a response at all and, in this case, for getting it so quickly.

    It's a nice example, I think, of confusion. The confusion of "the authorities".

    The authorities are super-sensitive, as you say, to paedophilia. That guides a lot of their decisions, most recently the ridiculous vetting and barring scheme of the Independent Safeguarding Authority, based on the useless magic of psychometrics.

    And the authorities are super-sensitive to security issues. Tat guides a lot of their other decisions, such as the ridiculous National Identity Scheme, based on the useless magic of biometrics.

    The authorities can limp along with a sort of internal consistency as long as there is no clash between their senior objectives. But here, in the case of the Manchester X-ray scheme, there is a resounding clash. Thus their quick reaction and their willingness to re-think, or at least to discuss, the matter, an extraordinarily rare event.

    What the authorities need, of course, is some over-arching understanding of their role and of society and of individuals. They don't have one. Without that wisdom, they are headless chickens suddenly thrown into confusion.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Only children?

    What about the rights of adults? The compulsory use of these machines in airports or anywhere else is an outright fucking disgrace and needs to be challenged at every possible level.

  14. NickFitz


    "...we have ourselves been in touch with charities working in this area to take further advice" - WTF? How about consulting a lawyer?

  15. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety!

    Title goes here

    So this is what happens when the Surveillance State and Political Correctness collide.

    Ha ha! When a child walks into it, it will just go into meltdown

    "System error: Looking at a naked child makes the operator a pedo"

    "System error: But wait, the child could be a terrorist!"

    Then it will go into this infinite loop of these two commands until the machine catches fire and melts.

    Love it!

  16. seanj

    Won't somebody think of the adults?

    If these images are in fact classed as pornographic in the case of a child, then surely they'd be classed as pornographic in the case of an adult.

    Therefore these could never be made mandatory as you can't force someone to agree to pose for a pornographic image - that's trafficking, my Home Office Nazi-Types!

  17. mariushm

    Security show

    Excellent, now we can use duct tape to stick razor blades and knives to our kids' bodies and bomb liquids in plastic bags (perfusion like) and they won't be checked because they're shy and worried some random person behind a screen will see their fat body or their wee-wee..

    All these checks are just for show and people shouldn't stand for it...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    What short memories they have...

    Not even a month ago.

    This proposal just is not sufficient.

    There's really no alternative but to insist on a barium meal and full abdominal x-ray for every passenger, preferably a full internal examination, before every flight. Why would you object? Are you a terrorist or something?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    a certain form of NSFW art

    yes, please do tell, i feel left out now, like i'm missing something from my life...

    i'm not sure if it was just a euphemism for porn in general, or if it's something more esoteric like gymnast porn, or maybe it's just one of those "human statue" things done naked?

    enquiring minds want to know

  20. Chris Collins

    Is it art?

    It's Gilbert and George, isn't it? That one made of poo.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    CRB Check == They haven't caught you yet.

    CRBs are such a waste of time. Poor understanding by the public has lead to believe that if you have passed a CRB check you are 'safe' to work with children, when they mean no such thing.

    Likewise if you fail, even if it is only because of unfounded and unproved accusations, you must by a paedophile.


  22. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    "Our only interest is in making sure all passengers get on the plane safely."

    What a pile of crock. Surely the interest is making sure that nobody gets on the flight with a bomb or other portable instrument of death. If the interest was making sure everybody get on the flight safely then it must be cheaper to simply give them feather lined padded jackets and orders to avoid all eating at any of the fucking awful departure lounge restaurants.

  23. LuMan

    @ jeremy 3

    Bloody good point. If the term 'indecent' or 'pornographic' in relation to minors is relative to 'posing' then the model MUST have been based on the adult form in such positions. So, to this end, making an X-Ray image* of anybody in the required position - young, old, or otherwise - HAS to be deemed as pornographic.

    Scrap the machine and implement something that doesn't remove passengers' human rights and dignity.

    *Not an image? - how the hell does the person who claimed that remember to breathe ffs!!

  24. Alex Walsh


    They're now adding insult to injury by discriminating on the basis of age.

  25. Steve 13
    Thumb Down

    Security Checked

    To the highest level? All the security staff are checked to DV are they? I suspect not.

  26. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Invitation to Drug Smugglers etc

    By stating that under 18's won't be scanned this way, I'm sure those running Drug Mules will be frantically recruiting more under 18's now that their 'little packages' will be safe from these pesky X-Rays.

    Fail for obvious reasons.

  27. Mitch Russell
    Thumb Up

    Deep in-country on the other side of the pond

    Tulsa, Oklahoma is scanning everyone with this equipment. I just passed through Saturday.

  28. mmiied


    I suspect it related to a mister max mosley or somone of that sort

  29. Anonymous Coward

    oh for fucks sake (yes, I wanted to say it, not acronym it)

    Get a grip...

    So everyone who will view these pictures is a pedo, eh....?!

    Great - Thanks Labour for making what used to be a great country now scared shitless in fear of everything bad.

    Ney-sayers = FAIL

  30. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Up


    How about flying from Liverpool?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not an image?

    Obviously they mean "not an image within the terms of the something-and-something Act".

    If you look at something while wearing glasses then you are viewing an "image" (a "virtual image", to be precise) within the terms of optics as taught in O level physics when I was at school, but that's hardly likely to be relevant here, is it?

    I've no idea what the Act says but I expect it defines its terms and I expect it doesn't include virtual images formed by spectacles and I wouldn't be surprised if it excludes CCTV and the like.

  32. SuperTim
    Thumb Up

    Do do do do-dooooo I'm lovin' it!

    You could have a right laugh at that machine. You write messages on your body with those silver pen things and they would show up on the scanner. Brilliant!

  33. Vincent Ballard

    Tinfoil underwear

    Has anyone solved the challenges of making underwear opaque to X-rays but not uncomfortable, and if so where might I buy it?

  34. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @oh for fucks sake

    "So everyone who will view these pictures is a pedo, eh....?!"

    In law, yes.

    What we're seeing here is two dumb laws colliding in a vacuum. Whichever gets messed up is fine with most people. Watching them duke it out is rather like Dave Lister and his boxing video.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    No Brainer

    think of it if it was the other way round.

    instead of going through the scanner which quickly shows an operator something which some people might think is rude they propose that they are going to take longer to physically feel up your child in front of you. I wouldn't like that to happen and it's also less certain of bringing up results so may result in a strip search.

    You'd take the x-ray every time.

    Those that are complaining about it are either luddites/prudes or are law nerds who don't care about if it's reasonable but if it breaks some law. A law which the current government probably came up with so you know was never thought through properly.

  37. Ross 7

    Pedo = criminal, but criminal != pedo

    Slight correction - the machine doesn't make anyone a "pedo". That implies that they love children (in an improper sense I presume). It does however make them a criminal, thanks to NuLabs affinity for strict liability offences.

    Basically one of Tonys (wifes?) mates said "oh noes, getting convictions is taking up too much of my golf/bar/"massage" time, 'cause I'm having to work to prove intent!". Tony then discovered strict liability offences and now mens rea is out the window and the police and CPS have an easy job of it as they only need to prove that an action took place (or didn't, depending on the offence).

    Now it's come back to bite them - I'd laugh if it wasn't so retarded.

    Making it worse is the CPS holding possible charges over people so that their overlords can apply pressure when they want. A prime example being the assisted suicide issue. They won't change the legislation as that removes power they currently wield. No, they tell the CPS not to prosecute unless they don't like the person for some reason.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Not an image?

    The coroners criminal bill thing when it goes through spreads the definition of an image pretty thin to catch as many things as possible.

    I wouldn't work on a scanner for the risk of becoming a paedophile in the eyes of the law.

  39. James Micallef Silver badge

    So many things wrong with this....

    A scan would just show an image of a naked person. This in itself is NOT indecent or pornographic, whatever the age of the person. At the same time, its a gross invasion of privacy for all who pass though, and once again there's no difference whether that person is 10 or 40.

    The focus is completely on the wrong thing, ie that the scanner is not needed at all. Unless every single airport employee goes through one, and every single piece of equipment going in and out of an airport secure area is as thoroughly checked (which is impossible), then the whole thing is just an added inconvenience and cost

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Since when was it safe to X-Ray people?

    Since when was it safe to X-Ray people - Let alone children! Ionising radiation has no safe dosage. It's all a matter of probability. Sure it's a low dose, but maybe it's enough to give you cancer.

  41. Chris Bradshaw
    Paris Hilton

    So don't show the 'body' image

    Just have the monitor background be white, (or the same as the flesh color), so it shows the non-fleshy bits (belt buckle, pen, AK47) while making the body shape (almost) invisible.

    And, frankly, given the choice between someone seeing an outline of a child's body (incl naughty bits) and someone patting said child down (incl naughty bits), the outline is a smaller risk.

    Paris - because of the naughty bits...

  42. A J Stiles

    @ AC 14:24

    Er, no. It's a real image, which is being projected onto your retina.

    Virtual images are formed by rays of light coming apart, appearing to have come from somewhere other than where they actually came from, and so can't be projected onto a screen.

  43. M Room
    Thumb Up

    Get a Life People

    If and when I fly, I want to get to the correct (as advertised) destination of the flight and I want to arrive alive.

    What possible time would those viewing the screen (which is remote from the individual) have to get into a pedo mood. All their concentration would be on identifying items that could be of danger to the aircraft, passengers or crew.

    I agree that any form of child abuse is abhorrent but It really is time that people stop over-reacting.

  44. Mike Richards

    "Our only interest is in making sure all passengers get on the plane safely."

    Bollocks - your only interest is forcing people to arrive at the terminal three hours before departure and delaying gate announcements to the last minute to maximise the time passengers spend in the shops* and restaurants.

    * Anyone else noticed that airport branches of Dixons are even crappier than the ones in the High Street?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feel for the kids

    The image is not an x-ray image, but converted into visible light for viewing. It is an image.

    If images of naked kids are indecent, then so are naked images of adults. Nude people are not indecent.

    So if they can't view pictures of naked kids, then feeling them up is OK?

    The law is an arse.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @James Micallef

    No there are two very different things here

    1) the fact that many laws made/amended from moral panics are stupid and badly thought out.

    2) do you think it's invading your privacy blah blah blah

    1 = a sad but true fact of media driven democracy. However this is an interesting example. Saying "well it's better then blah" or "it isn't the point what about adults" completely misses the point, that being that it doesn't matter because it is possible that a scanner operator becomes a criminal by generating/viewing an image of an under 18 year old on the scanner.

    2= you actually have a choice you can get patted down/told to strip or you can stand in a machine, your choice. But you'd be pretty stupid to pass up quick and easy or potentially long and very embarrassing. There are random stops and where they think you're dodgy.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    "a certain form of NSFW art"

    That sounds vaguely familiar - I remember reading something about "standard slave positions" on a BDSM enthusiast website, all with various silly names.

    The idea seems to be that the "master" says the name of the position, and the "slave" adopts it; with a host of distinct possibilities depending on whether you're wanting clear display of certain body parts, conveniently prominent whippable areas etc. etc.

    Or it could be something completely different - I'm meant to be working, so not searching for it now.

    Whatever the case, it will be going through my mind if I'm ever the target of one of these scanning machines - which might help the image be that little bit more impressive. Clouds, silver linings, etc.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Strip now!

    For anybody in favour of this unnecessary system, ask yourself this: would it be reasonable to expect every passenger (if time was available) to enter a private room, with a security operator behind one-way glass, and then be asked to strip naked?

    Think about it, every person, every flight. Still think this is a good idea? Throw in some low dose radiation for good measure and you've also got an experiment on the masses. Sure it might be OK, probably fine, but what if...

    Sure strip searches are OK where there is reasonable cause to do one, but it is degrading and intrusive for *every single* passenger, whether child or adult.

    Paris, because even she would find this demeaning...

  49. HFoster

    Again with the X-ray question

    I'm still baffled how the laws of physics have taken a battering in this debate - since when have skin and muscle been radio opaque? If the scanner uses X-rays, it won't be able to generate an actually indecent image. Not unless SKELETONS are now deemed indecent. Or they're bullshitting and not actually using X-rays.

    Which does Occam's razor shave the least?

  50. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    Even theoretically no child can be harmed by this (I'm not talking about x-rays) even if the entire airport security is staffed by paedophiles and child molesters.

    Even if every last one of the images will be published on the internet - how can it possibly harm any particular child? How can you tell who is on the picture - you don't even see the face. And the subject of the snapshot will never possibly know if that's him or her in the image and if anyone is wanking while looking at it.

    But now, because of the "think of the childrens" lot this type of scanner will probably be ditched and *I* will have to continue to go through the stupid charade of pointless undressing and turning out my pockets to satisfy some control-freak at the security check!

    Verily, my hatred of unthinking bigots is growing more personal by the minute...


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