EU transport chief weighs body-scanner issues

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New European transport commissioner Siim Kallas has delayed a decision either to support or oppose the use of body-scanning technology.

The scanners are being rushed into service at several European Union airports following the alleged attempt to destroy a Delta Air Lines flight over Detroit on 25 December.

In a plenary debate in the European Parliament yesterday over the scanners and their place in counter-terrorism strategies, Kallas noted reservations previously raised by parliamentarians on the body-imaging technology and its impact on areas such as privacy and health.

He intends to present a report to the Parliament, on the technology and its use at EU airports, in April.

Body scanners are "not the panacea" for airport counter-terrorism operations, he notes: "We need a large variety of combined and co-ordinated measures - intelligence, profiling, different search methods and international co-operation."

Failure to detect, at Amsterdam Schiphol, the explosives allegedly involved in the Delta incident showed a "failure of intelligence, failure to 'join the dots'", Kallas adds.