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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FAIL

I'll never be surprised by the uselessness of state

All herald, the new terrorist era of the "child bomb".

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Flame

Gawd's sakes, give it a rest will you?

All this blah-ing on about rights and what have you has nowt to do with what's happening at Manchester.

The new scanners are there to educate passengers in the error of their ways and stop them being so hostile.

Though I like many have long contended that flying from or into Manchester Airport is a right pain in the arse, the scanner will show that we're actually all suffering from hemorrhoids.

I admit, that's going to undermine my argument, but on the upside I can now request visual proof every time I get into a dispute with snooty immigration control officers about whether or not they're all dickheads.

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@Get a Life people

"All their concentration would be on identifying items that could be of danger to the aircraft, passengers or crew."

Clearly you haven't worked with security guards. Doing their jobs right is never a high priority when they can look like they're working by sitting still.

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Silver badge

Why not employ paedophiles for the system?

OK, there'd be some loss of productivity for regular wank breaks; but you could guarantee they'd be paying attention. And it'd be cost-effective....they'd probably pay to do it.

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A Perfect Storm

This is a perfect storm, isn't it? At last the War on Terror and the Paedogeddon meet head-on in a gloriously contradictory little furore. Gotta laugh.

It's going to be interesting watching how the government and police squirm out of this one. Are they really going to try and convince us all that an 'image' in this case is not, in fact, an 'image' - and so therefore it will fine to photograph nude kids at airports on a daily basis? And by the way, 2+2=5, okay?

John Ozimek is correct to point out that definitions of 'indecent' remain wildly open to interpretation - especially in British courts (where interpretations of 'indecent' win out many, many more times than not). Convictions have been secured on images involving no nudity and certainly no 'pornography'.

The triumph of children's 'charidees', with years of scaremongering and misdirection to their credit, is to turn all of us adults into child-fearing cowards. When it comes to other people's children we've all been there: We ignore them, we don't stare, we take little interest, we don't compliment and we certainly don't chastise. We don't get involved and we maintain a certain indifference. We stay safe, in other words. Above suspicion, because now we are all suspects.

And this is the mark of a 'healthy', progressive society..?

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Alert

Paint?

If I write "look at the size of my wang" in lead paint on my chest will it show up?

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What a terrible job

We ought to consider what effect having to look at naked people (of all ages and types) would have on a normal person. If looking at naked children makes you dangerous to society (and the law locks you up), what does doing that as a job do to an ordinary person?

All that will happen is some scanner operator will claim that it affected them and go off sick with stress. Once the operators claim it affects their personalities, the lawyers will flock round with compensation claim forms. Lawyers made this mess, we need to set them at each other's throats to end it.

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X-rays? wfT?

I don't know why people keep going on about x-rays and radiation. The technology this uses is in the millimetre band of the spectrum (hence the usual name, millimetre wave technology). They are short wave microwaves and *completely* non-ionising and entirely safe to use.

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Anonymous Coward

Straw for the camels backs

This is just another thing to be pushed out onto the public, no concern about safe levels of x-rays - there are reasons that the staff in the xray department hide behind their shield- and when the media are paid to pump out the message "everyone else puts up with it", will be another thing those that have to fly will have to endure.

I'll add it to the list of other stuff that the 'great' british public have bent over and swallowed:

Poll tax

Chip and pin cards

Windows

digital tv

broadband tax

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FAIL

"All Manchester security staff are security and CRB-checked to the highest level."

Oh, so they haven't been caught yet then? Given that some child abuse trials occur 40 years after the crime that's a lot of comfort.

And aren't these machines similar to those that used to be used to view children's feet inside their shoes? They were banned bacause of the danger of repeated exposure to X-rays.

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Seriously.

There are very serious reasons as to why airports etc are now having to resort to this type of technology.

If it is decided that certain sections of society can be opted out of the scanning because of their age, race, religion, sex, status then the who point of scanning fails, and therefore it should be totally scrapped.

Every person passing through Airport Control including Government personnel and alike should be subject to the scanning and vigorous security checks. After all, it is for everybody's safety and peace of mind when flying.

Furthermore, if no one becomes exempt from the scanning, then the likelihood of anyone attempting to carry anything illegal onto a plane, because they will be apprehended before boarding.

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Happy

@AC ... Paint

Best comment yet... Made me redecorate my computer with Coffee flavoured hot water.

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@Ross 7

Ross, you've hit the nail on the head - the problem isn't about this, it's about a generation of legisislation that removes intent and subsitutes specific actions that make the accused a criminal. Probably the most thought provoking thing I have read all day was your comment, and that includes the entire NYT and CNN sites for today. It is something I would like the media to write about more, as it is possiblyi a severe encroachment on liberties.

As a VERY frequent flier for most of my life, I WANT these machines - far easier to step through one of these "invasive" machines than to have to remove my belt, footwear, pens, change, mobiles, etc (although I perhaps mobiles will still have to be removed). These machines are a HUGE step forward towards eliminating the ridiculous lines at security, and are harder to beat than a metal detector, making planes safer.

And for those debating whether these form an "image", it's about as much an image as an x-ray. I also think that like anything else, too much exposure (like viewing thousands of people per day) will render ANY images non-pornographic or even mildly exciting for the security guards...

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FAIL

What this bit for?

'our only interest is in making sure all passengers get on the plane safely.'

Call me old fashioned, but if they're to have only one interest, I'd rather it was that I got safely OFF the plane!

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FAIL

Retarded

I don't care if kids get scanned at airports, although I expect an increase in deadly Action Man and GI Joe weaponry to make it on board after a successful clamp down on these tools of terrorism.

What bothers me is how stupid the public are if they believe new child porn thought crime laws have a purpose beyond making up crimes to attack those our wimpy MPs would *like* to put in prison.

The Thatcher years brought an end to most of the small amount of democracy this country possessed, and unfortunately rather than undo what we can now view as a fairly modest assault on civil rights, Labour has made huge strides to bring about their own version of 1984.

When this became a manual as opposed to a warning I have no idea, but sometime around Sept 11, 2001 seems likely.

Normally I'd leap up and down in joy when some useless but invasive technology is brought down by the government's own stupidity, but if the porn producing x-ray box has been taken out, there exists the possibility that useful security equipment might also fall foul of increasingly retarded lawmaking.

If Labour succeeds in next year's election, I wouldn't be surprised to see a new "makes me feel uncomfortable" bill worm it's way through Parliament, making it illegal to talk to strangers in lifts, make someone jump by approaching from behind too quietly or be in any way introverted or shy.

Laws banning "being mean to children and over-sensitive adults" will presumably follow.

It's as if most of the population has been replaced by Americans, those politically correct, spineless pussies who run crying to mommy if you say mean words to them or show them a nipple on TV.

I suppose we should be thankful the worst threat to our society right now is a bunch of homeless crusties the media calls Al Qaeda, instead of something that might fight it's way out of a wet paper bag. Should a threat on the scale of a 5-yr old girl menace this country, we'd be in big trouble if we're too afraid to see if suicide bombers come in fun-sized packaging.

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Grenade

Tin foil underwear...

I don't know about tin foil but as somebody who would be wearing an adult diaper when I pass through security, I can't help but wonder if that will obscure their x-ray and what the outcome will be when I first encounter one of these machines!

"Excuse me, Sir, but we can't quite see your meat and two veg. This way please..."

<sound of glove smacking against skin>

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NSFW Art

<sigh>

Was going to give a lengthy explanation explaining all this from photography and drama. Point out how raising hands above shoulder level is always exceptional, and often causes dramatic effect - whilst placing one or both hands behind the head is pretty staple (along with pouty lips and semi-dazed eyes) soft porn fare.

And yes...whoever mentioned the bdsm Master/slave sort of imagery more or less got it right. Whilst hands behind head and out of alignment with the perpendicular tends to be erotic, hands up and behind head in a squared off pose tends to connote passivity.

Anyway...it is also possible to read almost anything into anything, as this clip suggests:

Anyway...the inclusion of the term "erotic posing" in the indecency definition has always struck me as mildly odd, given what some folks will find erotic.</p>

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twClBiSHcck

Although I have to say, Ive never been a fan of salmon-pink for suits.

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Anonymous Coward

Xrays and dosage

First of the system doesn't use Xrays, it uses millimeter waves. Different frequencies and supposedly safer since they don't penetrate as deep.

Secondly, the dosage. You get many times the dosage of radiation actually taking the flight than during a scan. You would have to be scanned hundreds of times to match the dose you get in flight from gamma rays.

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Awesome!

This article has made my day. We just need to raise awareness; tell teenage girls and boys to pose sexually when being scanned, which will guarantee an indecent image of a child is made.

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WTF?

Simple solution.....

Make an exception for airport security and Just x-ray everyone regardless of age. If it can't be done legally for airport security then all forms of x-ray (and other forms of scan that produce images) for medical purposes should be banned where the patient is under 18, in case the person analyzing the image is a bit of a pedophile.

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Hope this is interesting...

The device seems to work by scanning an x-ray spot of about 10 - 20 square mm and 50 keV across the subject in about 10 s. Compton back-scattered radiation - a very tiny fraction of the incident beam - is then recorded by detectors facing the object. The detectors are probably quite large, and may not need to be position-sensitive, since the signal can be correlated with the spot position to recreate the image.

And of course it's an image, and the Rapican site says these images may be saved or discarded.

The integrated dose is quite low at about 0.1 microSv, compared to natural background of about 2 microSv/hr. However, for subject of about 1 square metre area, scanned in 10 s, the spot dwell time is about 0.1 ms, so the instantaneous dose-rate is about a million times higher than background.

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Anonymous Coward

Persuaded I am not

Claiming they're not making an image was a bit of a brain dead excuse wasn't it? If I was trying to find an argument to allow these things, I'd try saying that the images they make are not indecent. At least that one stands up to more than a few seconds of examination.

So what does that tell us about the people pushing these things?

1) They're so keen on these things that they consider any excuse is worth using, even a transparently false one.

2) So either they're brain dead idiots or completely untrustworthy.

3) Their morals are such that they'd be quite happy making indecent representations of children so long as they didn't fall withing the strict definition of "images" set out in law.

Given that pedigree, I think it's valid to question whether these things are useful, whether they are safe, and whether the claim that the non-images will not be saved is even remotely convincing. I'd also like to know a lot more about how they vet the people who view the non-images.

And I'd like the answers to come from someone independent.

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Grenade

Just a minor detail but...

"As far as Manchester airport is concerned, we are not in the business of endangering children - our only interest is in making sure all passengers get on the plane safely. We will abide by the advice given by experts in this area."

Actually I thought the point of the security was to make sure that all the passengers ultimately got OFF the plane safely. Getting on safely is rarely an issue.

And why did they go to charities in search of their "experts"? And how is an X-ray not an image? Anyone remember the Sony X-ray cam furor a few years back? They are clearly grabbing at straws out of desperation.

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FAIL

FFS you retards!

It's millimetre waves, not X-rays!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8a/Electromagnetic-Spectrum.png

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KaD
Boffin

Radiation Hazard?

These machines are backscatter x-ray unit. They work on a very different principal than "typical" x-ray systems that look at bones or scan your carry-on bags at airports. Backscatter devices rely on the principal that different materials "scatter" x-ray photons in a uniquely identifiable way depending on what atoms are in their makeup. The less protons an atom has, the more it scatters x-ray energy. A computer can read the scattered x-ray photons and show on a screen where there is a difference in the chemical makeup of the person being scanned. So that's how it shows that someone has a block of explosives or drugs taped to their thigh.

If you are worried about radiation, a person can receive up to 25 millirem (mrem) of ionizing radiation per year from a single source at maximum ( according to the U.S. Gov ). A backscatter X-ray delivers about 0.005 mrem of radiation. So if you were scanned about 200 times a year you would be exposed to what would be considered a negligible dose of 1 mrem. You could have cause for concern if you were scanned 100 times per week for a year.

FYI, 1 mrem of radiation is about the same as you get from living on the surface of our planet in about 2-3 days or flying in an aircraft for about 3 hours.

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This post has been deleted by its author

WTF?

Just for children!! Over 12 and it's ok?

When did being over 12 suddenly remove your rights to not having to have a forced "strip" search at an airport, unless you are a criminal, and even then they have rights.

And what else are they saying looking at only the child issue....Is the airport full of childporn freaks working at security?

Plus if the images are really being destroyed then there is no issue for anyone...ummmm perhaps they are not being destroyed after all. Shocking surprise!

It is an issue for us all.... I will be refusing and they can just waste a load of time pading me down.

Clean underwear folks, in case of "the glove" .....

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@Darren Lingham @Vincent Ballard

Yes they are X-rays, as far as I can tell it uses a pencil beam that scans rapidly over the suspect, backscattered into the detector. From the time when the pulses of backscattered radiation are detected, the angle of the beam at that time allows an image to be built up. These are real X-rays (not millimetre waves), the kind that comes from an x-ray tube and that can give you cancer like any other X-rays, with a certain low probability, but not zero probability. It can also cause mutations and birth defects that would affect your descendents.

http://www.rapiscansystems.com/rapiscan-secure-1000.html

Shielding clothing:

http://www.infabcorp.com/index.php/curtains/patient-protection/lead-lined-brassiere.html

http://www.universalmedicalinc.com/radiation-protection/patient-shields

http://www.rothband.com/store/index.php?cPath=22_111&osCsid=b1df5ee768b992170fd141ab81bf8f2d

http://www.kappamedical.com/Shielding2.htm

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What about the burqa-wearing sorority?

Think of the affront to Allah imagined by all those muslim men who won't even allow their womenfolk to show their faces in public.

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Anonymous Coward

And it wont increase security

The Rapescan works by creating an image using the X-rays scattered back from the body. They are very low energy and can only just penetrate clothing. Anything else would give unacceptable dose.

Therefore the machine can be defeated by the use of a prosthetic paunch under which the terrorist can hide whatever they like.

The machine is being manufactured to cash in on the current scared brainless state of airport authorities etc by means of apparent gee-whiz high tech appeal without actually enhancing security at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Excellent!!

Our "society's" two current unchallengable assertions, paedophiles-are-everywhere and the money printing machine that is the anti-terror industry meet head on in a thrilling deathmatch at the unlikely venue of Manchester airport. Despite the promise of magnificent entertainment, I don't think the outcome is in much doubt at all, since the Concerned Mothers of Hyde (and friends) aren't quite the income generators the makers of scanners and other such security trash are , and are rather less likely to fund Labours soon-to-be-ill-fated election campaign. Nice idea while it lasted.

Since children are apparently entitled to dignity, what about the rest of us?

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Stop

I hope some of you clowns are joking..

"no concern about safe levels of x-rays - there are reasons that the staff in the xray department hide behind their shield"

Probably because:

a) Hospital X-rays are especially powerful, and

b) Taking the hospital X-ray dosage time after time in a day for x years will most definately damage cells in ways you don't want.

That doesn't mean it's dangerous to have an X-ray a whole bunch of times. Quite the opposite, it is indeed, perfectly safe.

Also can we stop using the R word in the context of the ionising kind as if everything that 'radiates' energy will cause your children to be mutants like you spent 4 weeks inside the sarcophagus at Chernobyl.

And yes, these things are overpriced lawsuit machines - not only is the technology just asking for all sorts of issues in the criminal courts, especially with regards to children, but there are major issues with this equipment as it pertains to the human rights act if nothing else.

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Stop

IMO

it's time to smash the machines.

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Big Brother

"raise their arms in a near-salute"

HEIL!

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Top Trumps

So we now know who wins in a game of social anxiety Top Trumps - my paedo hysteria trumps your terrorism hype!

Seriously, if they're not scanning everyone then there's no point. Here's the evidence: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2095911

They've been using this technology in Moscow for the last 4 years or so - personally I found the body scan performed by the attractive Russian security officer in the tight starched uniform quite exhilarating...

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Megaphone

not a big deal

Assuming the guy monitoring the images produced by this machine is in a remote room with an alarm button he can hit to warn the guard outside the scanner when someone is packing, then the guy in the room need never know anything about the person being scanned.

And as he works in an airport, the people he scans could be from almost anywhere on earth. Just don't give that guy access to any CCTV cameras in the same area as the scanner and he'll be none the wiser.

It'll be worse for him having to look at your genitals all day than it will be for you. Unless he was getting off on it, it would scarcely matter either way.

As for the radiation, well if you can afford to fly often enough for it to be a problem then you deserve it tbh.

Airport security is completely pointless, but they're so dead set on putting on their little security theatre, the least we can do is be grateful when they make it more convenient for us. I do object to having to do the silly slave pose in the machine but hey it beats having some guy with a double digit IQ and a triple digit income touch your nuts and accuse you of being a terrorist at the same time. And you can always flip the bird while in the scanner. What are they gonna do about it, accuse you of carrying a bomb when you've just undergone a procedure that proves you aren't?

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Bad law, bad consequences

This problem reflects a fundamental problem with a law which is so badly defined that nobody actually knows what it means. What is worse, it reinforces the myth that children are inherently sexual and that they must be viewed as inherently sexual objects. The Act is a significant contributor to the problem. It illustrates what happens when legislation is passed in a climate of moral panic whipped up by the likes of Mary Whitehouse.

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Flame

@I'll never be surprised by the uselessness of state

Just what I was thinking too. There are probably plans already afoot in terrorist camps to do just that.

We have all our rights for innocent, rights for criminals, rights for children, etc, that means we have to spend so much time dodging laws and being pc all the time. Criminals and terrorists don't have such morals so will just use all these things as our weaknesses.

So what could happen now (or eventually once a kid blows up) is that more attention is put on checking the kids, manually, slowing up the time it takes for the rest of us to get in the airport and less attention is paid to the adults as the scanner *should* pick up everything that isn't safe, slightly overlooking the fact it still needs the guards to be vigilant mind. In short, this could mean it's slower to get through and isn't actually that much safer?

All because other criminals such as paedos cause us to think this way.. Who runs this world? - the Criminals it would seem?

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Linux

Simples !

I won't be flying !

So my hard earned will not go anywhere near places running such invasive technology. I might allow medical staff to decide to expose me to X-Rays, but some shite at a terminal ? I might also, after being requested and having the reasons explained, allow medical staff to view my naughty bits, but, again, some shite at a terminal ?

I think not !

Simples, we all stay at home until they start to behave like their role in life suggests to be suitable behavior for them. You REALLY want the bus conductor to look at your naughty bits missus ?

Money always pulls the wayward back into some kind of line !

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Go

@Mosh Jahan

A-men Brother!

Proceed with this nonsense at flank speed! Lock away the prudish twats who make this country shite and overtly PC beyond imagination! Oh.. wait.. it's too late.. Dash darn it..

next plain to a remote island please! I want outta the human race!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And it wont increase security

>Therefore the machine can be defeated by the use of a prosthetic paunch under which the terrorist can hide whatever they like.

Never being one to shy away from adding to the unsubstantiated rumour mill I seem to recall that it was reported as being able to show up breast implants so it would seem to be rather more penetrating then some would have us believe. Maybe in an attempt to counter the prosthetic paunch scenario.

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Pint

@ futumsh

I travel in and out of Moscow every other week and must have been through these machines dozens of times now - and yes, sometimes you do get a hot chick in uniform giving the blurry image of your naked torso the once-over but I've never had one wink at me yet... Unfortunately.

The bit that always makes me laugh though is that as soon as you're through you can turn around and see the screen to watch the next person come through! The image actually isn't that special, I watched my girlfriend walk through behind me and was quite disappointed by the picture.

The thing that I love the most about the machine is the plaque in front of it explaining it is made in Canada and assuring people in both English and Russian that it is completely safe. It's a safe bet that if it was made in Russia nobody would go near it! :)

In defence of the machine and the technology it really does work quickly and queues are never as long as they are in airports with the traditional metal detectors and wandering hands guy. And most of the time the operator looks so disinterested that I doubt they would care even if Cheryl Cole (or the Russian equivalent of female perfection) was mooching through it...

Beer - because I don't like vodka. And vodka really doesn't like me!

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