S.Korean human rights body opposes airport body scanners

South Korea's state human rights commission said Wednesday it was opposed plans to install full body scanners at major airports, fearing these would violate personal privacy.

The National Human Rights Commission recommended that the transport ministry cancel its plan to introduce the scanners this year.

The machines may violate privacy as they can generate images of the entire body including any prosthetic devices, the commission said.

It also challenged the ministry's contention that the body scanners would be a reliable and effective way of detecting bombs and preventing terrorism.

"It is hard to understand the necessity of the device that definitely violates the privacy of passengers," the watchdog said in a statement.

The images can be leaked and used improperly, it said, citing a case in which a British airport official used the scanner to take pictures of his female colleague.

The machines have proved controversial in several parts of the world but some European countries have tested the technology. Italy plans to install body scanners at airports and rail stations.

The commission said passengers could also face discrimination if they are selected for scanning just because they come from a certain country or because of their religion.

Moreover, international health organisations have warned that radiation from the machines was harmful, it said.

The Transportation Security Administration, which is introducing the scanners in the United States, denies the devices pose any health risks.

A spokesman for the South Korean transport ministry said no decision had yet been taken on a response to the commission's recommendation.

lim/sm/bsk

 

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