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Body scanners to come sooner than expected

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Body scanners to come sooner than expected
Photo: DPA
13:01 CET+01:00
The controversial body scanners that allow security personnel to see though clothing are likely to be fast-tracked into German airports, according to members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

The head of the German parliament's Committee on Interior Affairs Wolfgang Bosbach said Sunday he expected the body-scanners to be introduced in the current year.

Body scanners have re-entered the debate on airport security since a terrorist attempted to blow up a plane at Detroit airport in the US on Christmas Day. Nigerian-born Umar Faruk Abdulmutallab, who was apparently working for Al-Qaeda, had sewn a bomb into his underpants, where it went undetected at Amsterdam airport in the Netherlands.

Bosbach told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper, "I believe we will start tests in the next six months," before adding that he was confident that the tests would show that the privacy of passengers would not be invaded. "If everything goes well, we can start regular service a few months later"

Interior affairs spokesman for the conservatives' parliamentary group, Hans-Peter Uhl, said, "We cannot afford to do without body scanners in times of mass tourism." Uhl said he was certain that the scanners presented no dangers either to health or civil rights.

After the initial scepticism of Free Democratic Party leader Guido Westerwelle, the FDP has now also come out in favour of the use of the scanners. FDP state secretary for justice Max Stadler told the Tagesspiegel newspaper that they were "the right step."

The police, whose union GdP was initially against the use of the scanners, has already developed body scanners that disguise passengers' intimate areas.

But Klaus Jansen of professional police association Bundes Deutscher Kriminalbeamter (BDK) warned against over-confidence that the scanners would provide security. "We have to make sure that we're not just implementing a technical solution that gives us a false sense of security," he said in an interview with the radio station Deutschlandfunk.

Petra Pau of the Left party also called the scanners a "security mirage," with health, practical, and ethical issues attached. "A minimum wage for security services would be a lot more effective than state-ordained peep-shows," she said in a statement.

The police union GdP echoed Pau's concern, despite seeing the new amendments to the technology as acceptable. "Some security workers get €7.50 an hour, and often call in sick or work another job because of it. That is not acceptable," GdP chairman Konrad Freiberg told the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper.

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