back to article Child porn threat to airport's 'virtual strip search' scanners

Manchester Airport has rejected claims its new body scanners will fall foul of child pornography laws, claiming that because they use X-rays "they do not make an image". The machines use low doses of radiation to deliver a 3D black and white scan of volunteer passengers' bodies to a human operator sat in front of a screen. The …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    My heart goes out to the security guards at Manchester

    Given the state of Britain's obesity epidemic, imagine having to look at all those sweltering sweaty and swollen cadavers-on-the-cheapest-flight-available scooting off to Ibiza all day long. I further imagine one of those guards' brothers works for this ARCHIE organisation and wants to help his brother out.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Case Law

    R. v. Smith and Jayson [2002 EWCA Crim 683] states that downloading an image onto the computer screen is an offence of making, even if a copy is not saved onto a disk. Once an image is downloaded, the length of time it remains on the screen is irrelevant.

    From what the image is downloaded from is not specified and of little relevance, the presumption would be that this also apply to a video camera/ webcam directly connected to a monitor or indeed an X-ray scanner.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    '...the Protection of Children Act specifically outlaws "pseudo-photographs"'

    I hope nobody in the UK is planning a Balthus retrospective...

  4. Jeremy Chappell


    Err, X-Rays? Is that safe? I'm not sure I'd want to be X-Rayed very often (different if you've broken something, or something medical is suspected). Routine use of X-Rays just sounds like a bad idea.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's see an example then

    If they're citing the nature of the image captured, then can we have a few examples? And also, if it anything like their current system, the monitors used by staff are clearly visible by other commuters in the queue - presumably this will be changed? Oh and presumably, you'll get male/female variants so that women can go through a scanner being monitored by a woman?

  6. nichomach

    Prime example of...

    ...the fact that just because you can doesn't mean that you should. Seriously, I don't like the idea myself and given the kind of sniggering jobsworth oiks that I've seen running security checks at airports I don't see why anyone would, children or not.

  7. The Indomitable Gall

    Not a photograph? Not an argument.

    Wasn't there something saying that even cartoons were covered under the new laws?

  8. lIsRT

    Someone notify the Paedofinder General.

    "During the 12-month trial children will be scanned if their parents give consent. The policy has prompted the children's civil rights group Action on Rights for Children (ARCH) to write to bosses, insisting they will break the law."

    It sounds like that policy could be an incitement to make an indecent image of a child.

    If so, then the person who wrote it has already committed an offence.

  9. Andrew Johnson 1
    Thumb Up

    Common Sense!!

    At last an organisation fighting this intrusion of privacy. It's bad enough that adults will be forced the indignity of having to go through this system, but I would *never* let my children go through one. And if children are to become exempt, then there is no point putting them in as the Terrorists will just use children. I'd rather be patted down and use 10 different metal & drug sniffing detectors than go through this!

  10. Anonymous Coward

    No Trust

    It's issues of trust.

    Do we trust people to not to take guns, knifes and bombs on to trains? - no. Fair enough.

    Do we trust security guards who are normally trusted to feel up children but instead see an x-rays to turn into raving paedophiles and seek out the children they have seen? well it seems ARCH don't. Do they make doctors wear blindfolds? or is it because they don't see a picture that it's ok?

    I think it's more to do with the prudes that think that if someone sees them naked on a photo by an unknown person that part of their soul has been stolen in some way.

  11. Julian I-Do-Stuff


    Anyone keen for martyrdom would probably be delighted to take their sprog with them... then the question becomes is that kid just fat - or packing? Er...

  12. Nigel 11

    Morph or Virtualize the image?

    Rather than making an actual image (albeit just a silhouette) of a subject's nude body, wouldn't it be possible to morph that image onto an appropriately-sized silhouette of someone who volunteered to be a template? A library of a hundred or so templates should suffice. Then those who object to a silhouette of their particular body being viewed should be placated. This also has the advantage that the operators could not be distracted by an every-one-different image of the persons being scanned, and would perforce have to concentrate on the important differences (the concealed objects that the scanner is there to detect).

    Of course, this still needs some images of the body of a child ... if such a template silhouette falls foul of the child porn laws, then that law is an ass. I think they were told that, but they passed it anyway.

    What do they do in the medical books that paediatricians study? Are they also all breaking this law?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    anything that derives...from a photo or image of a real child is already subject to the law

    So says El Reg

    Oi scamps, get on msn. I need to talk to you about stu [-]

  14. Dale 3

    Only children?

    I don't want my own genitals imaged any more than I would want my children's. Thinking about children's privacy is important, but why aren't we more concerned about our own privacy? I for one will by going through the opt-out queue.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    Oh my gawd think of the children...

    So you'd rather have them patted down by a complete stranger than have someone watch a poor b&w scan

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    The argument that it isn't an image doesn't stand up... if they found a collection of these 'images' on a perps computer, they would prosecute.

    Although I must say that when I first saw the technology there were 2 unrelated thoughts that went through my head...

    1: where can I get one?

    2: children's-rights campaigners will have a field day.

  17. Jon Green

    When last I checked...

    a photograph was an image created by exposing a sensitised surface (be it film or CCD) to electromagnetic radiation.

    The pictures created by X-ray machines, whether in hospital or the Manchester scanner, are photographs.

  18. Filippo Silver badge

    Irresistible force vs. immovable object

    Wow! The OMGPEDOSAREEVERYWHERE crowd finally comes to clash with the OMGTERRORISTSAREEVERYWHERE crowd. Both have proven able to legislate absurd restrictions of freedom for no actual benefit, based on irrational fear alone. One can only wish they'd kill each other over this issue.

  19. Greg J Preece

    And the rest of us?

    "ARCH has campaigned against the use of body scanners on children, arguing they are disproportionately intrusive and remove their right to dignity, particularly given many are sensitive about their bodies."

    But adults are OK, naturally. How could we possibly object to a full body X-ray every time we want to get on a flight?

  20. David Hicks

    Wait, what?

    "Making an indecent image of a child is a strict liability offence under the Protection of Children Act"

    Got it, naked children are indecent, regardless of circumstances, security concerns, whatever. All children should be sewn into their clothes at birth and only let out when they reach 18, for their own protection and to protect adults everywhere from being corrupted and turning into raging paedos.

    Hell, better make that 30.

    This is what you get when terrorist hysteria and child "protection" hysteria mix. Can we just have everyone involved on both sides put down for their own good?

  21. Anonymous Coward


    Nudity != Obscenity.

    A photograph of a naked child isn't by definition obscene or illegal. If you look here:

    even Level One requires "obscene posing". Now I don't imagine a child will be doing that in the scanner.

    Seriously, it's political correctness GONE MAD! Sure, the child (or indeed adult) should be able to refuse to stand in a booth for a few seconds, but then they'll have to be groped instead. I know what I'd rather.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Complete red herring

    It matters not one jot whether this technology be used on children or not, the whole debate should be about whether the expense of these machines can be justified.

    Over the last, just for the sake of argument, twenty years how many passengers have boarded a plane at Manchester airport and hijacked it or posed a threat with anything they have carried on board?

    Out of that, I'm assuming, extraordinarily large number, how many would have been prevented by the use of this waste of technology for technologies sake?

    Main threat to aircraft is poor ground security, airport staff (especially sub-sub-...-contract cleaners who have access to aircraft) and hold luggage.

    Spend money where it will make a difference, not just give a contract to friends of whoever is in power at the time.

    I see a further downside to this as the security staff will be paying far too much attention to the body scanners and less to the carry-on scanners.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Friggin' eck!

    A lot of so called 'security' guff (like ID cards etc) are a lot of baloney, but for once I think being able to scan people and see any concealed weapons sounds like a sensible thing to be able to do.

    Now if people are going to start bleating on about possible peedo uses then really they do need to get some sort of grip!

  24. mmiied


    provent treoists crowd vs the think of the children crowd 3 rounds 1 KO

  25. ratfox

    Good for the children

    Now how do I, as an adult not protected by the law, stop these people from ogling me?

    Are we allowed no privacy?

    Not thrilled about this.

  26. Grease Monkey Silver badge


    "A spokesman for Manchester Airport said he wasn't yet aware of ARCH's letter of complaint, but argued the scans did not amount to an "image" in legal terms."

    So live TV is not an image until somebody records it? Cock.

  27. Kevin Reader

    While I doubt the effectiveness...

    While I doubt the effectiveness of these scanners - they depend a lot on operator training and vigilance - they clearly fall foul of our culture's "Stop my child/policeman/building." policy.

    I suspect you now have to sit at the beach or poolside wearing a government certified blindfold!

    Interestingly - I presume the alternative to scanning the children must be to "pat them down" which should lead to lots of doubtful people queuing for the job! The alternative being to allow children to be used as mules by any dodgy plane users. Just tape the liquids/bombs/drugs/guns to a child. Neat. Glad to see ARCH have thought this one through.

  28. Martin 6 Silver badge

    It's OK I'm a doctor

    A simple solution, the child's doctor is allowed to see the sprog naked

    All you have to do is staff each security checkpoints exclusively with Male/Female doctors (as appropriate) - problem solved!

    And it will reduce chronic unemployment in the medical profession.

  29. Tim Spence

    Doesn't constitute an image?

    You're shining electromagnetic radiation at an object, and picking up the reflected radiation using a sensor (camera) to produce a human readable image on a screen.

    Doesn't matter what type or frequency that initial radiation is, whether it's microwave, infrared, human visible wavelengths, X-rays, etc, you're still producing an image on a screen.

  30. HansG
    Thumb Down


    This story would have been a non issue if the media had not blown it out of all proportion. DJs talking about it on the radio, without full facts, tons of mis-reporting over the past few days, etc etc.

    The dam scanner may as well be hooked straight into the UKs Facebook profiles, each image being auto uploaded, tagged and set as your profile image.

    That's how much it has been exaggerated, people obviously prefer terror attacks, bring on the bombs!

  31. The Original Ash
    Thumb Down


    So naturist websites are hosting illegal photos, and colonies are groups of perverts.

    They might be looked upon a little oddly in winter, but I can't see the logic myself...

  32. Ian K
    Black Helicopters

    Paedo Paranoiacs vs Security Paranoiacs

    If only there was some way they could both not get what they want.

  33. Hollerith 1

    So now bombs move indoors

    Given that we will all have our heretofore right to be able to have our persons private removed by these machines, so that the elderly, those with colostomy bags, those with artificial limbs etc. now much face the shame of strangers looking at their naked bodies (just what I want in my perfect society) under dubious claims that it will stop terrorists, and that this is now widely known, any sensible suicide bomber will just take the anal route for the transportation of explosives. A few of them on board, not minding the sharing of bodily, erm, fluids, could get together and, ah, pool their loads.

    I would rather be patted down by someone I can look int he eye, talk to and, if necessary, refuse to, than have to wear tinfoil underwear.

  34. Commentator

    Nudity does not equal Obscenity

    An image of a nude child is not per se obscene or controlled.

    For an image of a nude child to be obscene it must consist of at least erotic posing, even with no other sexual activity. Standing in an x-ray booth is not erotic posing.

    Invasion of privacy - maybe. Increasing one's annual radiation burden - maybe (particularly if you come from Cornwall or Aberdeen or some other granite rich area). Child porn - clearly not.

    Please get a grip on reality.

  35. Anonymous Coward


    They're not X-Ray machines like the ones hospitals use; they're a different technology that gives a much lower radiation dose.

    The Register has a good article on safety here:

    That says the dosage is about 0.05 uSv per scan. British Airways say that you'll be exposed to about 5 uSv per hour during a long haul flight, due to natural cosmic background radiation (which is stronger at altitude because there's less atmosphere to absorb it)*. That means that in 1 minute flying you get more radiation exposure than in a single scan.

    So if you're not worried about flying, you probably shouldn't worry about (the health effects of) the scan.

    (* Source:

  36. dunncha

    All joking aside

    the issue here is potential pedo's.

    If there is enough to letch then that is enough. If you got caught looking through frosted glass (bathroom window) at a underage would that be classed as a sexual crime.

    Damn sure it would but because this is tied to security we are supposed to forgive this invasion.

    You just sit in front of this machine all day checking out everybody's bits & tits,

    ohh teens. no flabby bits here I'll take and extra close look at these fwoor .... see if I can guess how old they are before they get to Passport control.

    Amazing the invasions they will push through on a terrorist ticket.

    Why do they need this when they have metal scanners.

  37. Anonymous Coward


    "R. v. Smith and Jayson [2002 EWCA Crim 683] states that downloading an image onto the computer screen is an offence of making, even if a copy is not saved onto a disk. Once an image is downloaded, the length of time it remains on the screen is irrelevant."

    It's proven very useful, if totally nonsensical, too, this charge of 'making'. Sounds so compelling, don't you think, when read out on a charge sheet? The Cops know it's a scam, as do the courts, but they can't let go of a good thing. Such a small word, 'making', but so very powerful when (mis)used in such a way.

    Airport Security staff will doubtless get exemption from prosecution if this scheme goes ahead. Police and forensics already enjoy it. How else would the likes of CEOP be able to maintain it's very well-publicised 500GB+ store of kiddy pr0n (the largest in Western Europe, apparently)?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't see what all the fuss is about

    I mean, haven't we all got a pair of x-ray specs that we bought from Whizzer & Chips back in the 70s?

    Don't tell the authorities, though, as we don't all want to be branded paedos.

  39. HFoster


    Wouldn't the X-ray go straight through all the OMGTEHPEADOEZAREEVERYWHEREONFACEBOOKWTFBBQ!!!1! body parts to bounce off inoffensive bones and any other radio opaque objects?

    I was under the impression that flesh and muscle, including genitals, were radio transparent.

    Or am I missing something here?

  40. witterq

    lead pants

    just get customs to pass around a shared lead fig leaf and be done with it :|

  41. Paul Hates Handles


    ...I can't be the only person who doesn't want to be seen naked every time they want to get on a flight, can I?

  42. Jon Green

    @HansG: "people obviously prefer terror attacks"

    Utter "straw man" tosh. No, people prefer not to be gratuitously irradiated.

    There is a much better technology, sold by the same company, that uses passive millimetre wave receivers to achieve the same objective. In other words, sensing the radiation that the body itself naturally produces, rather than actively aiming ionizing radiation at the subject.

    Frankly, I couldn't care less if someone in a locked room sees my (anonymised) genitals, or indeed my kids' (so long as the images aren't retained), I just don't want to add any unnecessary extra radiation to what we'll already be getting on the flight. I don't think that's unreasonable.

  43. Anonymous Coward


    It's not X-Rays, its terahertz radiation. They are between microwave and infrared. Nowhere near as bad for you as X-Rays* which are between ultraviolet and gamma radiation.

    Why can no one get this right? I'd still rather they weren't aim at my balls though.

    *probably, no one's been playing with them for long enough to be really sure.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Filippo

    'Wow! The OMGPEDOSAREEVERYWHERE crowd finally comes to clash with the OMGTERRORISTSAREEVERYWHERE crowd. Both have proven able to legislate absurd restrictions of freedom for no actual benefit, based on irrational fear alone. One can only wish they'd kill each other over this issue.'

    Of course the real joy of this story is that both groups are running the Home Office. Any chance of getting the Home Secretary to explain the situation? If so, can we have warning, I'll want to set TiVo so that I can enjoy it time and time again.

  45. 4a$$Monkey

    It is an image but...

    This is so going to fail in court.

    1) It needs to be obscene not just nude to be illigal

    2) If this counted you might as well say a X-ray or MMR scan of children are also illegal

    ARCH need to STFU!

  46. Mattew Gaunt


    Presumably then, if you take the "I'd prefer to be patted down" option, they can't object if you get your cock out.

  47. Dazed and Confused

    It is different for adults.

    I've been through these scanners loads of times. They used to test them at Heathrow before T5. Adults can give informed consent, at least that is the legal position. People should be given the information that these scanners can see under your clothes, it should then be up to you. When they were testing them I used to like to go throw the test because they then let you jump the queue. If some pervy security guard wants to look at me, thats their look out. You could say no then asked.

    With kids, they can not legally make an informed consent.

    The alternative it not normally a hands on search. Normal you use a hand held scanner. If this picks up any anomaly then you are asked to remove it.

    I can't remember the last time I was subjected to a hands on search.

  48. Chris Collins


    Of course, when I actually get my cock out at the airport there's no end of problems. It's political correctness gone mad.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Paedo Paranoiacs vs Security Paranoiacs

    >If only there was some way they could both not get what they want.

    Then they'd be masochistic paranoiacs

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not XRays, they are millimeter wave scanners

    See obligatory wiki article -

  51. Stevie


    So there is a market for tinfoil-lined underwear after all!

    Put me down for the baco-foil codpiece and matching pasties! No-one gets to see the Stevie-nips or "Mr Squishy"!

    I wonder if I can sell my back for baco-foil advertising slogan purposes?

    I want a sticky-back baco-foil "alien embryo" decal to freak out the invasive airport security guard.

  52. Andrew_F

    I wondered were you were on this story

    Than I saw you were covering an angle others hadn't mentioned.

    I'd give you a thumbs up if it wouldn't look worrying in context of the article.

  53. Natty

    ID cards

    But surely if a terrorist has his/her national ID card on them we will know before the scanner if they are packing a piece up the butt?

    Having filled out a few gov security forms myself. I know you have a question "Are you or have you even been a terrorist"


    Gotta love this country.. I will again one day.. I'm sure..


  54. Anonymous Coward

    Why is Manchester...

    ... such a rubbish place that it needs ID Cards for airport workers and X-ray scanners?

  55. Geoff Mackenzie

    Yeah, because ...

    ... the reason people would object to widespread strip-searching at airports is the inconvenience of having to get undressed, then dressed again.

    That seems to be the assumption behind this technology anyway.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thin End

    Once this accepted in airports, it will appear elsewhere.

    Police stations, courts, tube stations.

  57. Anonymous Coward

    Never mind the kids what about the followers of the 'Religion of Peace'?

    If I recall correctly Manchester and environs has rather a lot of adherents to a certain religion let's call it the ROP.

    Now a lot of these followers of the ROP, well they get pretty freaked out if you see a womans hair.

    These scanners are proabbly going to reveal a lot more than hair in more than one place.

    Just how freaked out do you think they will get if a gasp ..a man maybe even a non follower of the ROP see's their wife's bits in graphic detail?

    I foresee this will be quietly dropped lest the shrill demands for exemption or compensation get lost amid the riots and explosions caused by the more Milly Tant followers of the ROP.

    Remember the worldwide riots etc over a rather wafty cartoon?

    Just wait until the news reached the middle middle east.

  58. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Not XRays, they are millimeter wave scanners

    Incorrect. System is x-ray based.

    See here:

    - Chris

  59. Anonymous Coward


    Surely it comes down to which you'd prefer to bet on, that the person who looks at the "Image" for a few seconds gets a kick out of it or that one of your fellow passengers is going to blow themselves up mid flight.... In both cases odds are that you're ok but there's always the chance...

    Personally I hate flying anyway...

  60. Alfonso Vespucci

    One man's "erotic"...

    ... Is another man's Olympic logo. It should also be noted that people have been successfully prosecuted for being in posession of child images taken from newspapers and similar sources. Not indecent in themselves, but surely only a nonce would have such a collection (do you see where this is going). And if anyone wants to test out the theory that images of naked children are not automatically "indecent", why not carry a photo of your naked kid in the scanner pose in your wallet. Better still, if you're a bit of an artist, why not a sketch? Then when the nice policeman asks you to identify yourself (do you see where this is going?).

  61. RW

    @ David Hicks et al

    And to think that only forty years ago, a naked child symbolized freedom and innocence!

    It's time to start saying, loud and clear, that the nudity-phobes simply have dirty minds. They should all be sent away for psychological treatment of their serious sexual maladjustments. (Jacqui Smith, you'll be one of the first.)

    But what about the pedophiles? the fearmongers will whine. I have it on good authority (that of a prison guard who deals with pedos and other creeps) that if the pedos can't get pictures of naked kids, they're quite happy to use pictures of kids in clothing for their focussing exercises. Collages of little girls clipped out of Walmart fliers will do very nicely.

    It's not the porn that make the pedophile; it's the pedophile that turns otherwise innocent images into porn. And that, perhaps, is the greatest sin of all.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    brooke shields?

    already seen it...

  63. Frostbite


    The world has gone mad...........again.

  64. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    @Nigel 11

    "What do they do in the medical books that paediatricians study? Are they also all breaking this law?"

    Nah, in the cost-effective 21st century UK, we import all our medics from the third world, so they were all trained in another legal jurisdiction.

  65. Random Noise

    I seem to recall..

    ..a while back hearing about this technology.

    At the time GE or whoever it is that manufactures the kit insisted that it would have a privacy filter which automatically 'pixellated' the genital area. Does anyone else remember hearing this?

  66. Paul Corbett 2


    How about applying some computer power to filter the image, show just a outline of the body and areas of unusual density, surely a program could be devised that can say a normal arm has this profile, that persons arm appears to have something strapped to it ? - Flag alarm condition ?

    Ooooh unusual container detected under armpit, flag, i mean if the terrorist wants to make a container to hold his/her binary explosive that has the same density on the scanner as his body then he's going to succeed even if a human is checking the image, and especially a human who's looked at several thousand images in his shift.

    So outline of small child, no red flagged areas, go on child be at peace

    Outline of small child with suspicious density band round waist strapped there by loving terrorist parents - flag and detain - simplez

  67. Luther Blissett

    Tech solutions to the perv problem

    As the operators of the equipment will not have the expertise to identify in every case what suspicious object a person is carrying, suspects will need to be dequeued for further investigation. That decision could be made by the machine. Contrast enhancement of the images, with pixel counting would be trivial to implement. More sophisticated algorithms could determine pixel counts and shapes of objects in the area of specific parts of the body.

    Alternatively, operators of the equipment could be chemically castrated for the safety of children.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    to be honest

    To be honest this is far more interesting because it once again proves how ridiculous our Child Pornography laws are, just like that poor sap that got done for taking photos to turn into fairies at the parents request.

    and guess what the law and all the other bs laws (ecrb and recent vetting and soon to be law drawn/animated porn laws and extreme laws) because well f--- me Paedophiles can be fat jolly looking woman who everyone thinks is completely safe to leave their children with.

    I'm loving the whole reality shock of the nursery thing btw, people are finally realising that shit, paedophiles aren't weird looking guys that keep to themselves. Being a weird looking guy that keeps to himself this new spate has been a breath of fresh air. Not that I expect it to change anything any.

  69. James 55
    Thumb Up

    @Fillippo "Irresistible force vs. immovable object"

    " Wow! The OMGPEDOSAREEVERYWHERE crowd finally comes to clash with the OMGTERRORISTSAREEVERYWHERE crowd. Both have proven able to legislate absurd restrictions of freedom for no actual benefit, based on irrational fear alone. One can only wish they'd kill each other over this issue."

    Haha, classic. Sad that it's true though.

  70. Anonymous Coward

    Non-Images You Can Look At On A Screen?

    "Manchester Airport has rejected claims its new body scanners will fall foul of child pornography laws, claiming that because they use X-rays "they do not make an image"."

    So there should be no problem displaying the non-image on a big screen, in public, for all to see, yeah?

    Oh, but no. Suddenly it's obvious that:-

    1. It's an image.

    2. It's intrusive with respect to privacy.

    3. It may well be indecent in some sense (not pornographic, but indecency isn't limited to only that which is pornographic).

    I think it might be helpful to ask ourselves various questions about aspects of this scanning scheme in other situations.

    For example, if someone was to wear, in public, clothing that was similarly revealing, would it count as indecent exposure? How does this scanning scheme compare with, say, security CCTV or leisure centre staff in swimming pool changing rooms? What are the relevant similarities and differences?

    Perhaps those who claim that the images aren't images, and nonsense like that, should put their money where their mouths are:-

    1. Go through the scanners themselves.

    2. Have the images turned into posters, with details of who they're non-images of included.

    3. Put the posters on display in the airport, to demonstrate that the people responsible are more than happy to eat their own dog food.

    And while they're at it, they can ask some Muslims, men and women, to participate, to show it's not in anyway discriminatory - oh, wait...

  71. Anonymous Coward

    I'm finding it hard to stop laughing

    Still giggling about the Paedo warriors vs the Terror brigade.

    LMFAO I don't honestly care which wins - one of them is going to get a bloody nose and they both deserve it...

  72. Kevin 9

    Thouht Police

    The Thought Police are on the prowl.... illegal pseudo images. Why exactly are we criminalizing thought?

    Any law on the books should be protecting somebody. Who exactly is harmed if I DRAW an image of a child?

  73. Richard 12 Silver badge

    @ All the "X-rays/Not X-Rays" discussion.

    When they were trialling either this system or something similar at Heathrow, the operators had *absolutely no clue* how it worked when asked. I therefore refused to go through it. The next time, they were no better.

    Thus it's not surprising that various parts of the media and public are not sure if it's millimetre-wave (with totally unknown effects) or X-Rays (that are known to be bad).

    Terahertz radiation has only been possible to generate, let alone studied for about 10 years, so nobody has any clue what the medium-term, let alone long-term effects might be.

    The Sieverts ratings are also total rubbish, because Sieverts are fundamentally estimates based on a range of fudge-factors, each different depending on the radiation type and intensity. Nobody actually knows what the effects of regular low-dose X-Rays are, because no studies have ever been done.

    Thus the only values that can be stated with any degree of accuracy are the absolute power and energy emitted at the subject. You can't even give the energy absorbed!

  74. LAGMonkey

    Wont somebody think of the children..?!

    To Quote a "Cyanide and Happyness" comic...


    "erh.... you can stop thinking of them now."

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    All I can say is that it's nice to have the "think of the children" types behind a good cause for once. Airport security has gone far more than enough.

  76. This post has been deleted by its author

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Will somebody think of the scanners???

    I just don't understand the installation of these things at Manchester Airport. You can opt to go through the standard physical search if you prefer and presumably if you went through the scanner and something was seen that required further examination you would be physically searched anyhow... So why bother having them there anyway? Speed things up maybe? Well thats great but purposefully generating and exposing anybody to ionising radiation (of whatever dose) is not something that should be done lightly.

    Go to hospital and get a radiograph of your little finger: You'll need a valid referral from an authorised clinician who has to provide sufficient clinical details in order for the practitioner and/or operator to be able to justify the exposure. The examination must be optimised through use of careful positioning, collimation and exposure factors and a full record of the estimated dose-area product, kVp and mAs should be taken... At the end of all this you end up with effective dose not incomparable to that given by these body scanners (by all accounts - although I am yet to see any peer reviewed studies into the things). These requirements are enshrined in law (Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2000).

    But if its just a case of trying to check in quicker then yeah why not, go for it - no need to worry about any of that stuff.

  78. John Murgatroyd


    The system can also record the images....

    And precisely how are they expected to stop people carrying things concealed in body cavities ?

    Last time I looked, terahertz scanners did not penetrate the body....

  79. Anonymous Coward

    Next time look before you moan

    I agree it's a bit of an invasion of privacy but i'm assuming no one has actually seen the pictures, if not have look because you can't really see anything. The images are tamer than anything you could see with google and safe search, also if you don't want to go through it you can just say no and have a wand waved over you instead. Much ado about nothing.

    @ but the police will use it, ever been strip searched by the police? You have to drop your draws and part your cheeks to prove nothing is hidden there, the scanner is far less invasive.

  80. Mortal
    Thumb Up


    Well said!!!

  81. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Action on Rights for Children dont know squat

    Its obvious that Action on Rights for Children don't know squat about the UK laws on indecent images of children.

    The lowest level on the copine toplogy: catagory 1 (None erotic/none sexualised picture) are not considered to be indecent by the sentencing advistory panel

    Therefore the images on the scanners screen do not fall foul of the Indecent image laws. Well unless they were making a sexy pose when they went through. lol

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Nudity does not equal Obscenity

    So CCTV in girl's showers in schools will be OK on the £30/month 'watch CCTV and win prizes' site - ss long as they don't pose provocatively?

  83. Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to worry about

    I worked in Heathrow T4 for nearly 3 years, and for that whole time we had these machines.

    It was put in there in 2004, and removed again last year.

    As has been said, the radiation dose is insignificant.

    On the subject of child porn though, we were not allowed to scan anyone under 16, and anyone we did scan had to give their permission. Also, to protect anonymity, the person viewing the image would not see the passenger, and the person operating the scanner would not see the images.

    The image is never stored either, as soon as the next scan starts, the previous is gone.

    For that reason, I think they are pointless, I can't see the use in having an optional security scan. Those who refused were given a normal frisk at the archway metal detector.

  84. Remedial Gash

    Hasn't everyone here missed the point?

    It's not a case of 'Ooh paedo wow', but merely the difference between the laws that we as citizens are prosecuted under, and that which 'authority' is able to escape.

    Take a picture of your infant in the bath, and a Jessops' guy reports it - you are now a suspected paedo; but if plod at an airport (potentially) leers at a kid in his or her birthday suit - it's a perfectly legal application of security legislation.

    The disparity between recent (mis)use of the obscenity laws, and what is proposed here is the real problem.



  85. J 32

    Total recall...

    has one of these. Just the outlines of people in blue, and guns in red with alarm sound.

  86. Dave Bell

    The Manchester risk

    Most of the passenger trains on the local line are through trains that terminate at Manchester Airport.

    I checked with my father, who was in ARP/Civil-Defence, and if any terrorist prematures in transit, we're at a safe distance.

    He wouldn't want to be on the train.

  87. Mark .

    Double standards

    So if I as a consenting adult take photos with my partner in private, of a kind the Government disapproves, it's illegal ("extreme" porn laws), but it's okay for complete strangers to look at me naked in order for me to be allowed to fly.

    And if someone draws a doodle of someone appearing under 18, in an image that is sexual (including a fully clothed 17 year old drawn in the background of a scene where two adults are having sex), that will soon be illegal, but it's okay for people to sit and watch images of actual naked children all day long, of any age.


    "Adults can give informed consent, at least that is the legal position. People should be given the information that these scanners can see under your clothes, it should then be up to you."

    And if you refuse?

  88. Anonymous Coward

    You ALL have it wrong.....

    Think about it....

    Manchester..... scanning for weapons as you come through airport security. .....

    It's obvious why - that way you or your kids can be identified as NOT being 'tooled up', and thus airport staff can suitably equip you as you leave the terminal!

    Jeeze - have you BEEN to Manchester recently. Its like a demilitarized zone.

  89. Stu J


    "Over the last, just for the sake of argument, twenty years how many passengers have boarded a plane at Manchester airport and [hijacked it or] posed a threat with anything they have carried on board?"

    I managed to inadvertently take my corkscrew/knife out of Manchester in my hand luggage. They found it at Tenerife airport on the return flight......

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a facsimilie of an image. Not a real image

    This wouldn't have stopped thousands of rampaging Rangers fans wrecking Manchester. Oddly enough that was about "images" too. Or a lack thereof

  91. ScepticMan

    Isn't this a flaw in the security system?

    So you sew the bomb into the child's jacket.

    Risk management gone wrong. It's all about solutions to non-existent problems.

  92. Maty

    In 200 years time ...

    ...people are going to read about this sort of crap and weep.

    We used to think of the Spanish Inquisition as deranged. Today's society has managed to screw itself up almost as thoroughly.

    Beer, because after this article I need one.

  93. Anonymous Coward

    Its gone too far

    Its all gone too far, what next, everyone gets a cavity search?

    There comes a time when we do more harm to ourselves than the terrorists can ever manage, this is when the terrorists can say they have won!

    This machine is not dignified or respectful of us as humans, I would rather not fly than be dehumanised in that way.

    I will just get my foil lined coat and hat and be off

  94. Anonymous Coward


    RW is right. To a true paedo, apparent age is the only thing that matters. Not skin, not pose, not even gender.

  95. Someone

    Compton Scattering

    Maybe the spokesman for Manchester Airport got a bit confused. The product blurb for the Rapiscan Secure 1000 says, “The system produces high resolution images…”

    The Protection of Children Act refers to photographs and pseudo-photographs, with a pseudo-photograph being defined in terms of an image. Is there an external legal definition of an image; don’t we rely on the dictionary definition and common sense? I could understand the argument that the X-ray scanners do not produce a photograph. Compton scattering is a specific physical phenomenon and is different to the way photographs are produced.

    This would be where ARCH’s pseudo-photograph argument would kick in. If it’s not a photograph, but looks like a photograph, then by definition it’s a pseudo-photograph. The spokesman could have been arguing that they’re not photographs and don’t look like photographs. Unfortunately, the images look like photographic negatives.

    An Anonymous Coward wrote, “even Level One requires ‘obscene posing’. Now I don’t imagine a child will be doing that in the scanner.” The CPS page whose URL you’ve given points out that this relates only to sentencing guidelines. It is not necessary for a conviction.

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    There is a simple solution to this problem: pass a law requiring children to wear lead underwear.

    That should protect innocent airport X-ray machine operators from being tricked into photographing the children's genitals.

    It will also prevent people bringing up this argument when this important technology sees wider deployment in train stations, supermarkets and museums.

  97. Anonymous Coward

    think of the fun to be had!

    You have to have fun with this.

    I think I will get some lead based paint, an old shirt and write "f**k of c**t" on it. Then I will wear it under a jumper as I go through the scan.

    It should show up beautifully on the image.

    I wonder how they will treat it. Since it is hidden to "public view" it should not be an offence.

    What other slogans can I now put on there?

  98. Mr Larrington

    Bunch of arse

    Two questions:

    1. Will it catch an arse-bomber?

    2. How many of the people complaining about this have ever photocopied their arse during the Christmas party?

  99. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    @ HansG

    Yes, how dare the media actually report on a story that is some public interest.


  100. This post has been deleted by its author

  101. The BigYin

    What happens if I refuse?

    Am I labelled a "suspect" for not wanting to be violated and then, well, get violated with a rubber glove?

    Where does Labour get off thinking it can force ID cards, 100% surveillance and a presumption of guilt on us?

  102. magnetik

    @Random Noise

    "At the time GE or whoever it is that manufactures the kit insisted that it would have a privacy filter which automatically 'pixellated' the genital area."

    In which case a terrorist / smuggler would just hide their naughty warez in that area.

    Is that a bomb in your pants or are you just happy to be going to Thailand?

  103. Crazy Goat Man Al

    Re Anonymous Coward 14th Oct 14:32 GMT

    Now come on mate thats just not fair. You are using logic, and facts and science to prove your point. Not scare mongering and half trurths some bloke told you down the pub.

    I for one dont see what the fuss is about. You get padded down or you go in the booth. Both are intrusive. If you dont like it dont fly. I would prefer to go in the booth. For me thats a lot less intrusive and its hardly a quality image, whats the big deal ???

  104. Anonymous Coward

    claim accidental imaging

    if something that is illegal to take an image of walks into shot, have you broken the law?

    if not you can say, "you must get the other side of this wall to board the plain, if you go this way you will be patted down and you must not clime the wall" and have the scanner in the wall, if they just happen to pop into shot, its not your fault.

  105. Sam Tana

    Turn it up

    No-one would object to someone being able to see their skeleton - it's just the fleshy bits on the outside that we get coy about - so turn up the intensity on the X-Ray gizmo and make the people being scanned look like a set of anonymous dancing bones. Presumably guns/bombs/drugs/bottles of water will still stand out, but no-one will get a squint at your intimates.

    In fact, this would make the scanner even more like that scene from Total Recall when Arnie runs through the security scanner and we see his bones, but catch no sight of the future Governor of California's frank-n-beans.

  106. Ted Bovis


    I've no idea what to think about this, but I think I'm enjoying the OMGPAEDOS and OMGTERRORISTS fighting each other while I sit back and watch OMGEASTENDERS.

  107. James Hughes 1

    @AC 7:18

    Not only the T-shirt - if I ever have to go through on of these, I'm going to pop a 14"x2" salami down my pants (to join the one already there?) - that should look good on the x-ray.

  108. ShaggyDoggy


    "they do not make an image" versus "reveal objects concealed underneath their clothes - including genitals"

    One or the other please M/cr

  109. Till Dipper

    @Kevin Reader

    At the beach or poolside, people who choose to be scantily clad do so and have no expectation of privacy regarding what skin is exposed to public view.

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have a suit that is made of fine metal strands that can counteract this machine and its nasty abuse of power.

    Fuggin perverts the lot of them!

  111. Simon B

    common sense says leave the kids so they can blow us up ..?!

    Don't check the kids! leave them, so that bombers can strap them up with explosives and blow us all to kingdom come. Does nobody have a brain anymore?

  112. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Stu J

    >I managed to inadvertently take my corkscrew/knife out of Manchester in my hand luggage. They found it at Tenerife airport on the return flight......

    As it was in your hand luggage even with the new scanner you would still have boarded the plane with it and if the last paragraph of my comment turns out to be true then you would be more likely to get something on board in your hand luggage.

    If you'd had the corkscrew on your person then the normal arch type metal detector would have sensed it.

  113. avalon111

    You haven't seen anything yet

    The obsessions of the child-saver lobby are going to get a lot more militant in coming months. The last Tory government knocked the Satanic Ritual Abuse thing on the head, when gender feminists and religious fundamentalists were running around trying to convince the country that it was full of satanist paedophiles. Virginia Bottomley MP killed off that obsession dead in the water, though for a few years you could find plenty of social workers indoctrinated by The Reachout Trust who were convinced the Devil himself walked in Nottinghamshire or Rochdale.

    New Labour though was "game" for anything the loonies said, and so now we have the ISA in all its glory, and effectively Labour have branded 1/4 of the population paedophiles (unless the ISA says they aren't - or rather haven't been caught yet.) The loonies won but they know they are running out of time - the next government might not be so favourable to them.

    How exactly an X-ray image counts as an indecent image is beyond me - my X-ray of my stuffed knee showed bone. It was the MRI that showed the proper detail. Now if it was an MRI scanner at the airport I'd be a tad concerned; but a skeleton and perhaps the metal parts of your kids' DS Lite? Hum. If it works as planned all the operator should see is the same as the scanner scene in 'Total Recall.' Skin and muscle just show as fuzzy grey.

    A bigger concern has to be the rads applied. How often will these scanner devices be calibrated, and who will check it is done correctly? Or do we have to wait until there's a national scandal when we find millions of citizens and their children were zapped with scanners outputting 2 x, 3 x plus more energy than required?

  114. miknik

    Don't like it?

    Buy lead pants, simple!

  115. This post has been deleted by its author

  116. kissingthecarpet

    @AC 14/10 13:33 - "Yes,But"

    You are incorrect - this document,if you had read it, refers to sentencing guidelines. It clearly states that the definition of obscene is up to the jury & that photos DO NOT have to be "erotically posed" - it cites a case(O'Carroll) where someone was convicted of importing indecent 'naturist' photos, which were NOT erotically posed.

    Quote "Accordingly non-posed photographs that are indecent can form counts on an indictment."

  117. Scott 19


    Could be fun if your an adult, just make sure you've taken a long HARD look at page 3.

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