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Germany kiboshes body scanners at airports

The Local · 31 Aug 2011, 14:38

Published: 31 Aug 2011 14:38 GMT+02:00

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The so-called backscatter scanners are supposed to show whether passengers are concealing dangerous items on their bodies. They are broadly similar to "naked" scanners already used in many US airports. The testing in Hamburg from September to the end of July was meant to be the prelude to a nationwide rollout.

But the German scanners had an error rate of 54 percent, according to government officials, who said that wrinkles in clothing or even perspiration caused false alarms. That meant security personnel were forced to waste an untold amount of time subsequently searching passengers by hand for no reason.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said on Wednesday there will be no more scanners at German airports until they can be made more reliable.

He said authorities will be taking part in development efforts in hopes of reintroducing the devices when they meet “high security standards.”

In order to go into widespread use, they need to have an error rate of well under 50 percent, according to the Interior Ministry.

More than 800,000 passengers took part in the Hamburg testing, which was prompted in large part by the 2009 arrest of a Nigerian man who tried to set off a bomb in his underwear on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit airport in the United States.

Unlike scanners being used in America, which controversially show passengers’ body contours and have been called “naked” scanner due to ghost-like pictures they produce, the German ones used thermal imagery or showed a sort of stick figure on screeners’ computers.

The announcement of the end of body scanners was met with elation by the transport industry, which has long griped that they’ve created delays and are of dubious utility.

Story continues below…

Klaus-Peter Siegloch, the president of the German Air Transport Industry Federation (BDL) said the technology could be useful in the future, but is currently too primitive.

“Passenger checks are the bottleneck at every airport,” he said.

DAPD/DPA/The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:22 August 31, 2011 by marimay
Good, I don't want to have to use one. Something about cancer I don't like...
18:25 August 31, 2011 by authun
How can they consider such junk ready for delivery? I didn't know vaporware also applied to hardware and that Vitamin B went SO far in DE.
20:04 August 31, 2011 by Englishted
But if you look at the picture ,they have caught a woman trying to smuggle "post it notes" on her arm out of the country.

So it does work.
20:19 August 31, 2011 by johnny108
it's simple- it always has been. You want security? then you must give up privacy.

Sad but true.
00:15 September 1, 2011 by MonkeyMania
Wondering why yourholiness hasn't used this as another platform to sound off about multiculturalism not working etc etc What about all the Jihaadists etc. You have been warned. yourholiness is lurking and will soon come out with his usual copy and paste arguments.
05:41 September 1, 2011 by crunchy2k
This is so great....these body scanners only hinder smugglers. If the watcher is awake, which he/she isn't at minimum wage. Plus, nobody can watch a screen for less than an hour before becoming depersonalized to the objects in the screen in front of them.
11:41 September 1, 2011 by Joshontour
Crunchy, in Germany the security agents are randomly checked by agents trying to pass certain items through the scanners to see if they notice. If they don't catch the items they can be fined and lose their jobs. In their down time, I've seen these security agents test each other by putting inconspicuous items in bags through the bag scanners to see if their co-workers notice. For many of them it is Ehrensache, so before you say "nobody can watch a screen for less than an hour before becoming depersonalized" at least have an idea of what you are talking about.
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