The introduction of full body scanners at Heathrow and Manchester airports has today caused outrage among civil liberty campaigners who say that they are an invasion of privacy.
Campaigners claim the scanners, which act like a mini radar device ‘seeing’ beneath ordinary clothing, breach privacy rules under the Human Rights Act.
The exemption of under 18s from being scanned, which was in place during the trial of the machines in Manchester amid fears the scanners could breach child protection laws, has also been removed.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) also warned that using profiling techniques to single out Muslims, Asians and black people for scanning at airports could breach race and religious discrimination laws introduced by the government.
It was also revealed yesterday that air passengers who refuse to submit to a full body scan at Heathrow and Manchester airports will be barred from taking their flights.
The scanners have been introduced in the wake of a failed attempt by 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a transatlantic jet on Christmas Day.
Airport bosses at Manchester and Heathrow said those selected for scanning are not being chosen on the basis of race, religion or ethnicity.
They will instead scan passengers if they raise the suspicion of security officers following a hand search or unsolved metal detection alarm.
They will also go through if explosive or vapour trace detection equipment causes an alarm to sound or if they request a private search prior to or after passing through the walk-through metal detection equipment.
The first passengers at Manchester Airport who used the scanner backed the controversial measure.
In the first hour after the machine was made compulsory around 60 people were scanned at Manchester.
Andrew Mark, 46, from Wolverhampton, was among the first to be selected.
Mr Mark said: ‘We have nothing to hide so it’s not a problem. It didn’t seem to hold us up either as it only takes a few seconds.’
“Yes Ma’am. No avoiding it. Spread your legs a little wider. That’s it. Turn slowly. Slowly. Arch your back a bit. Okay. Now, you and your underage teenage daughter will also have to spend some time with Bruno here in this little dark room. It’s an unfortunate necessity to save lives. Having us take off all of your clothes electronically is important and worth doing. You must let us make these detailed nude videos of you and your child and/or have us feel you up. Otherwise, a dark skinned person of a different religion will explode his shoe or his crotch on you while you are on the plane. You don’t want that now do you? By the way, did you know that the word “gullible” is not in the dictionary? Thanks for flying with us. Just remember, all movies (aka “pictures”) we make are deleted from the machine the instant after they are uploaded to our shadow government servers. Interesting piercing, by the way. Oh, you didn’t know your daughter had done that? Oops. My bad. We see more of those than you might think. Just between you and me, you’d also be surprised at what kinds of people shave everything everywhere … if you know what I mean. What’s that? Cancer risk? Well, cancer could strike anyone at any time. You’ll just have to trust us that these machines are safe because their inner workings are top secret. Anyway, unless you are on our ZAP list we don’t push the red ZAP button, and you won’t be given cancer. Move along.”