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Full body scanners give rise to concern

Switzerland’s data protection commissioner is worried about the potential introduction of full body scanners at airports as part of stepped-up security measures.

In recent days controls have been tightened at many airports, including Zurich and Geneva, after a failed attempt by an alleged al-Qaida sympathiser to blow up a plane on the Amsterdam-Detroit route on Christmas day.

The current generation of the scanners would lead to a “radical intrusion of the private sphere”, the commissioner’s head of information, Kosmas Tsiraktsopoulos, said on Tuesday. The scanners reveal details of the body beneath the clothes.

But Tsiraktsopoulos said that the next generation of scanners, which would only show a person’s outline, would be acceptable.

In the meantime, he suggested that scans should only be seen by officials of the same sex as the person scanned, or that the checks should be automated, and scans only examined by airport staff if they showed something suspicious.

The airline Swiss started to apply the new security checks demanded by Washington on all its US-bound flights on Tuesday.

However, these measures do not include full body scanners. A spokeswoman for Zurich airport said it had no plans to buy any, while at Geneva a spokesman said the airport was closely following the discussions about them.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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