Le 4 mai 2016, 09:27 dans Humeurs • 0
The European Union on Monday prohibited the use of X-ray body scanners in European airports,parting ways with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, which has deployed hundreds ofthe scanners as a way to screen millions of airline passengers for explosives hidden under clothing.
The European Commission, which enforces common policies of the EU's 27 member countries,adopted the rule “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.”
As a ProPublica/PBS NewsHour investigation detailed earlier this month, X-ray body scanners useionizing radiation, a form of energy that has been shown to damage DNA and cause cancer.Although the amount of radiation is extremely low, equivalent to the radiation a person wouldreceive in a few minutes of flying, several research studies have concluded that a small number ofcancer cases would result from scanning hundreds of millions of passengers a year.
European countries will be allowed to use an alternative body scanner, on that relies on radiofrequency waves, which have not been linked to cancer. The TSA has also deployed hundreds ofthose machines – known as millimeter-wave scanners – in U.S. airports. But unlike Europe, it hasdecided to deploy both types of scanners.
The TSA would not comment specifically on the EU’s decision. But in a statement, TSA spokesmanMike McCarthy said, “As one of our many layers of security, TSA deploys the most advancedtechnology available to provide the best opportunity to detect dangerous items, such as explosives.
“We rigorously test our technology to ensure it meets our high detection and safety standardsbefore it is placed in airports,” he continued. “Since January 2010, advanced imaging technologyhas detected more than 300 dangerous or illegal items on passengers in U.S. airports nationwide.”
Body scanners have been controversial in the United States since they were first deployed in prisonsin the late 1990s and then in airports for tests after 9/11. Most of the controversy has focused onprivacy because the machines can produce graphic images. But the manufacturers have sinceinstalled privacy filters.
As the TSA began deploying hundreds of body scanners after the failed underwear bombing onChristmas Day 2009, several scientists began to raise concerns about the health risks of the X-rayscanner, noting that even low levels of radiation would increase the risk of cancer.
As part of our investigation, ProPublica surveyed foreign countries’ security policies and found thatonly a few nations used the X-ray scanner. The United Kingdom uses them but only for secondaryscreening, such as when a passenger triggers the metal detector or raises suspicion.
Under the new European Commission policy, the U.K. will be allowed to complete a trial of the X-rayscanners but not to deploy them on a permanent basis when the trial ends, said Helen Kearns,spokeswoman for the European transport commissioner, Siim Kallas.
“These new rules ensure that where this technology is used it will be covered by EU-wide standardson detection capability as well as strict safeguards to protect health and fundamental rights,” Kallassaid.
Five-hundred body scanners, split about evenly between the two technologies, are deployed in U.S.airports. The X-ray scanner, or backscatter, which looks like two large blue boxes, is used at majorairports, including Los Angeles International Airport, John F. Kennedy in New York and Chicago'sO’Hare. The millimeter-wave scanner, which looks like a round glass booth, is used in San Francisco,Atlanta and Dallas.
Within three years, the TSA plans to deploy 1,800 backscatter and millimeter-wave scanners, coveringnearly every domestic airport security lane. The TSA has not yet released details on the exactbreakdown.