Manchester Airport has started a trial of an X-ray security scanner which produces what's been termed "naked" images of passengers. The new scanning machines provide a full-body image of a passenger, which authorities say will enable any concealed weapons or explosives to be uncovered more quickly.
Passengers will no longer need to remove their belts, shoes and coats when they go through security checks in the airport's Terminal 2. The airport says this will "completely take away the hassle" of going through a 'pat-down' check at the security gate.
However the scans will also reveal a clear outline of genitalia and any false limbs or body piercings. A spokeswoman for Manchester Airport said passengers can refuse to be checked by the machine if they are uncomfortable with the full-body image scan.
Naked Airport X-ray
The scanners work by reflecting electromagnetic X-rays onto the passengers, with the reflected energy creating a black-and-white image. The image is then transmitted to a security officer in a remote location, "who has no contact with the area where the imaging machine is located." After the naked airport xray a security officer then confirms if the passenger can proceed or if a physical search is required.
The scanners, manufactured by RapiScan Systems and costing £80,000 ($126,000) each, have previously been trialled in the UK at London Heathrow. Last week, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ordered 1,000 of the scanners following trials at airports across the USA.
Manchester Airport Security
A number of travellers have contacted media outlets in the UK including BBC and Sky raising privacy and data protection concerns about the technology. In response, the airport spokeswoman said the images produced by the scanner are "not erotic or pornographic, and they cannot be stored or captured in any way."
An airport statement added: "The image produced is a black-and-white, ghost like outline of an individual's body without any distinguishing features such as hair or facial features, making it impossible to recognise people. The process is entirely anonymous. We can assure you that contrary to popular misconception, imaging technology does not allow security staff to see you naked."