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Government not opposed to body scanners

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Government not opposed to body scanners
Photo: DPA
11:52 CET+01:00
Germany's interior minister said Wednesday he was not opposed in principle to body scanners being used in airport security checks but that the technology had to improve first.

"I cannot yet say whether we will find a solution ... but I think it is worth researching to see whether there is a machine that would protect personal rights," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily.

Security experts believe that body scanners could have detected the explosives that Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was hiding as he boarded a Northwest Airlines plane in Amsterdam for his attempted bombing last week.

But such scanners, which are already used at 19 US airports and a handful of courthouses and prisons, and which are being tested at numerous international airports, are controversial because they scan beneath clothing.

De Maiziere said that current security checks at airports involving frisking by security staff was also "not something that is particularly pleasant - and it takes a while too."

"A suitable scanner could have the advantage of being quicker and that there is no bodily contact," he said.

He added that technology was being developed that would blur "bodily structures" such as genitals.

Body scanners are being tested in numerous European airports but their use was halted after the European Union expressed concerns and protested a plan to install the scanners at airports throughout the 27-nation bloc.

Meanwhile the head of the German police union, the GdP, Josef Scheuring, accused the government of using the debate on scanners to distract attention away from the "failures of recent years" in security policy.

Security at airports around the world has been stepped up since the December 25 attempted attack, and on Tuesday Germany announced increased checks on passengers and their hand luggage at the country's airports.

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