Thursday, October 23, 2008

LibDem MEP fights against virtual strip-CCTV

Tories attempt to delay vote on key resolution - Watson

Members of the European Parliament were expected to secure a resolution today demanding that body scanners which reveal passengers' naked bodies at security check points must not get an EU go-ahead without a full public debate on the implications for privacy and human rights.

Graham Watson MEP Liberal Democrat for the South West and Gibraltar said:

"Travellers need to know exactly what the images display, their right to opt for an alternative search, and how they can have confidence that intrusive and sensitive images will not be misused. Although claims are made that the images are not of photographic quality, they seem to be quite explicit about portrayal of genitalia and intimate medical details like breast implants and colostomy bags. I'm sure Commissioner Tajani would not like it if pictures of his body scan were circling the internet.

"So the introduction of 'virtual strip search' cannot be treated as a purely technical matter as these body scanners pose serious issues of civil liberties and personal dignity. Fears arise about the images finding their way into the press and onto the internet, maybe through payment to employees, unless bans on storage are strictly policed.

"The fact that the European Commission proposes to authorise their use without advice from data protection watchdogs on necessary safeguards is a disgrace. The European Parliament would be neglecting its duty if it failed to insist on a transparent and open debate on an issue affecting the fundamental rights of millions of citizens.

"Furthermore, the attempt by the Conservatives to put off a vote on this matter shows up the hollowness of their claim to care about privacy threats."
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