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Home News & Events AVIATION SECURITY LAW NEWS: Airport Body Scanners deemed to be Constitutional in USA

AVIATION SECURITY LAW NEWS: Airport Body Scanners deemed to be Constitutional in USA

Sunday, 24 July 2011 15:48

On July 15th, 2011, a US Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia as presided inter alia by Judge Douglas Ginsberg rejected a constituitonal challenge raised against the use of body scanners at airports, ruling that the need to detect hidden explosives was far more important for safety and security reasons than the passengers's rights to privacy, noting that passengers could always avoid the body scans by opting to undergo a pat-down by a screening officer.

Judge Ginsberg has been reported on the Los Angeles Times in an article written by David G. Savage entitled 'Court rejects challenge to airport body scanners', to have remarked that the close-up searches were reasonable and justified because lives were at stake and because the scanners, or optional pat-down, offered the best way to prevent non-metalic explosives from being carried on to an airplane. "That balance [between privacy and security] clearly favours government here."

It is interesting to emphazise that since last year, with the introduction of body scanners at the national airports in the USA, more than 98 % of passengers travelling by air have chosen 'to step in the machine' whose advanced technology permits to see non-matalic images including powders and liquids. The US Transportation Security Adminsitration (TSA) has installed 486 body scanners at 78 airports during 2010 and another 500 machines have been scheduled for installation during this year.

Body scanning has now become the standard form of airport security screening process in the US after the case of the so called "underwear bomber" when in December 2009, Umar Fraouk Abdulmutallab, a 23 year old Nigerian, had boarded a NorthWest Airlines flight in Amsterdam for USA with plastic explosives in his underwear. Although his plan had been to detonate the explosives before the aircraft would have landed in Detroit, his plan was foiled by other passengers and crew on board.

Tanti-Dougall & Associates, Advocates which inter alia provides legal services on aviation safety and security were engaged to draft and to impliment the airport security plan of the Malta International Airport.