We Oppose Full-Body Scanning at Airports

We Oppose the Introduction of Full-Body Scanning at Japan’s Airports

Statement by the Citizens Association Opposing Phone Tapping and Consumers Union of Japan

January 19, 2010

The U.S. government introduced whole body scanning at airports on December 25, 2009. This involves acquiring photographic images that reveal the nude body using X-ray techniques as a way to examine passengers. The claim is that such scanning is needed after attempts to bring bombs on board aircrafts. After that, physical examination using the same type of scanner has been extended to Canada and some EU member countries including the U.K., the Netherlands, and Italy.

However, other countries including Belgium and Spain are taking a skeptical approach to the introduction of such inspections, and in Germany, the opinion is divided.

We do not agree that the counter-terrorism argument is a valid explanation for introducing full-body scanning.

Such views are presented in mass media without taking into account privacy rights. We strongly request that whole body scanning should not be introduced in Japan, and that each government should make their own decisions regarding this issue without simply following the decisions made by the U.S. government. Moreover, we request that Japan’s government will clearly state that there will be no introduction of whole body scanning in the future.

1) We have strong misgivings about the violation of privacy related to collecting fingerprints and facial recognition through the US-VISIT (United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) system, as introduced in 2009 and the introduction of taking naked full-body images from 2010.

2) We also have misgivings about the influence of X-rays on the human body during the exposure to radiation. Although it is reported that the amount of radiation is small, there is no guarantee that there is no influence when the whole human body is exposed.

3) Secondary use of the acquired images are technically an easy process, and there is no way to guarantee that individual privacy rights are not violated in the future, as information that must be protected are stored and accumulated on computers as electronic information.

4) It is uncertain if whole body scanning can properly identify small amounts of liquids or nonmetal materials, etc. The argument that scanning is needed for “counter-terrorism” is in fact a one-sided attack on individual privacy rights, as the effectiveness is doubtful.

5) The broader issues of human rights and civil liberties are seriously at risk with the introduction of severe monitoring systems that collect personal information including body data, careers, interpersonal relationships etc.

For more details, please see the Anti-Tochoho.org website (Japanese)