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Germany reverses position over 'naked' scanners

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Germany reverses position over 'naked' scanners
Photo: DPA
10:47 CET+01:00
A German plan to begin lab tests of 'naked' security scanners provoked howls of protest over privacy Saturday, as the government reversed its earlier rejection of the devices.

According to the government, it aims to "research and test technologies that will increase the level of security for civilian air traffic." A spokesman for the German interior ministry confirmed a report by the Bild tabloid.

But the government said the scanners still needed substantial testing and made clear this type of security check would not violate the privacy of individuals.

Opposition parties, notably the Green party and socialist Left party, were outraged. Green party co-chairwoman Claudia Roth said about the scanners: "They are a blatant violation of basic individual rights and also violate the constitutional right to protect human dignity."

Petra Pau of the Left party dubbed the plans a "state-sponsored peep show" in comments made to Der Spiegel.

In October, the government had poured cold water on a European Commission plan to allow the scanners in a bid to increase security in airports. Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said that such devices would not show up in German airports for the foreseeable future, while his ministry dismissed the idea as "silly."

The government made clear that the tests, which are to get underway in December, did not mean a decision had already been reached on whether the scanners would be set up at airports.

The 'naked' scanners - or backscatter scanners as they are called in the industry - create a ghostly naked image of a person.

European parliamentarians have also protested against the plans on grounds of privacy.

The EU Commission recently said it would allow the new technology to improve security at EU airports. The devices are already being used in Amsterdam, London and in Zürich, notably not an EU member.

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