New Body Scanners to Reveal All

15th Jun 2012

The federal government made the announcement early this year that eight international terminals in the country shall be installed with the new scanners. The government affirmed that to protect the privacy of the passengers, the scanners will only capture the basic stick-figure image.

Contrary to what the government has said, it was revealed that the equipment will actually detect passengers wearing prosthesis and those who have cosmetic surgery like transgenders. This revelation came out based on the report recently obtained from the freedom of information following the meeting of industry stakeholders and Office of Transport Security representatives.

Alerts were sent out to members of the Breast Cancer Network Australia advising them to secure a certificate or letter from their doctor or surgeon and show it to the security personnel before stepping onto the scanner to seek special treatment if required. However, only prosthetic breasts can be detected while breast implants wouldn't be.

According to the spokesman for the Infrastructure Department, the present procedures performed by most Australian international terminals involving the clearing of medical aids and devices worn by passengers shall stay unchanged. The installation of such scanners won't change that either.

There was a consultation conducted by the Office of Transport Security with the civil libertarians and stakeholders including Muslims who raised various concerns regarding the issue.

Muslims were very vocal about the privacy issue as the machine may potentially show naked graphic images of passengers which is against their religious morals.

Documents obtained from internal sources unveiled a program being proposed on privacy quality assurance with the aim to check issues on privacy. It was scrapped anyway.

The decision to install the full-body scanners came out following the correspondence in November 2011 between Professor John McMillan and Paul Retter, the Australian Information Commissioner and OTS Executive Director respectively.

The National Privacy Principles did not apply because, according to the Transport Department, no personal information shall be obtained, stored or revealed when the passengers pass through the machine for scanning.

The Australian government is implementing the project to ensure the security of all the airport users following the foiled attempt of a passenger who tried to detonate chemicals he kept in his underwear on December 2009 on a US airline.