Tomorrow (10th February) the European Parliament will once again debate the use of naked scanners in European airports . Statements are also expected from the European Commission and the Council of Ministers. The parliament's Legislative Observatory lists a "Body scanners" Resolution file (RSP/2010/2509)  that indicates that the subjects will include "fundamental rights in the Union, Charter" as well as "protection of privacy and data protection".
Back in 2008 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) asked the Commission to clarify issues such as the impact on human rights, the impact on passengers health and under what circumstances an individual would be able to refuse a naked scan. As revealed in a recent press release  MEPs are still waiting for such an "impact evaluation" almost a year and a half later!
On 27th January Giovanni Buttarelli, the Assistant Supervisor of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), told the European Parliament civil liberties committee (LIBE)  that "it would now seem inappropriate to say that the use of body scanners as such is against EU privacy laws."
Buttarelli also told MEPs that new naked scanners are less intrusive:
It is also interesting to note that whilst some of the more invasive first generation scanners showed for instance the whole skeleton of passengers, there are now models which appear to be more compliant with EU law
In particular, one recent development ensures that images shown to operators are no longer real pictures of a passenger and instead use a representation showing possible zones where suspected elements should may be located.
The UK government ploughs ahead with the full monty
Meanwhile the UK is pressing ahead  with Rapiscan Secure 1000 backscatter naked scanners: "the first backscatter personnel screening solution to be deployed in the civil aviation environment"  - so most certainly not part of a new generation of less naked scanners!
Last week the government announced the roll out of scanners, releasing an Interim Code of Practice as well as an assessment of the associated health risks - no prizes for guessing the conclusions in the latter. In a 1st February written ministerial statement the Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis laid out the timetable for the introduction of naked scanners, described as Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines. Adonis said:
The requirement to deploy AIT machines at Heathrow and Manchester airports comes into effect today and I expect additional scanners to be deployed at these airports and to be introduced at Birmingham Airport over the course of this month. This will be followed by a nationwide roll-out of scanners in the coming months.
Requirement? Adonis also confirmed that naked scans will be compulsory for those singled out:
In the immediate future, only a small proportion of airline passengers will be selected for scanning. If a passenger is selected for scanning, and declines, they will not be permitted to fly.
The selection process for naked scanning is not made clear in the written statement or the interim code of practice. The code merely says that the scanners must be operated "in accordance with detailed protocols" but that the "details of the protocol are not published due to the security sensitive content".
There has been no parliamentary debate with regard to the introduction of naked scanners, so in a pathetic attempt to look like this is not an authoritarian diktat from on high Adonis laid out plans for a public consultation:
Given the current security threat level, the Government believes it essential to start introducing scanners immediately. However I wish to consult widely on the long-term regime for their use, taking full account of the experience of the initial deployment. The Department will, therefore, shortly be launching a full public consultation on the requirements relating to the use of scanners as set out in the Interim Code of Practice and will consider all representations carefully before preparing a Final Code of Practice later in the year.
Governments around the world clearly see airline passengers as a soft target when it comes to removing civil liberties. An ever increasing amount of security theatre measures have been introduced in the last few years - playing on peoples fears. People are afraid of flying, it is an unnatural act and this fear has existed since the introduction of passenger airliners despite the fact that statistically flying is far safer than driving a car. The security paraphernalia when added to the pre existing fear of flying, a media fueled climate of fear and politicians talking up "threat levels" leads to compliant subjects willing to submit to whatever is demanded of them.
-  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/plenary/home.do?language=EN&date=20100207&tab=NEXT&subTab=20100210
-  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/FindByProcnum.do?lang=en&procnum=RSP/2010/2509
-  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/019-67966-025-01-05-902-20100125IPR67965-25-01-2010-2010-false/default_en.htm
-  http://www.edps.europa.eu/EDPSWEB/webdav/site/mySite/shared/Documents/EDPS/Publications/Speeches/2010/10-01-27_body_scanners_EN.pdf
-  http://www.rapiscansystems.com/datasheets/Rapiscan_Secure1000_Screen.pdf
-  http://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/manweb.nsf/Content/X-Ray-Scanners-Public-Information
-  http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/security/aviation/airport/bodyscanners/codeofpractice/
-  http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/security/aviation/airport/bodyscanners/bodyscanner/
-  http://www.dft.gov.uk/press/speechesstatements/statements/adonis20100201