After Lord Adonis announced last week that those selected to go through airport body scanners would be prevented from flying if they refused, Big Brother Watch has been inundated with emails from concerned members of the public wondering about the health and privacy implications.
These concerns were shown to be entirely valid this week when the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety (which includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization) stated that “air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings” and “pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning.” On the BBC’s Jonathan Ross show, Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan claimed that he had been asked to sign a printed image of his bodyscan, contrary to the government’s claims that the images would be destroyed immediately.
Alex has written today about the manner in which the government has shrugged off these concerns, but it is clear that this fight is not over. Big Brother Watch will continue to oppose full body scanners while they are rolled-out without any thought given to their success rates, the privacy problems, and the health implications. If you wish to contact us with further information about body scanners or any other examples of our Big Brother state, our email is [email protected].
Most importantly of all – if you are asked to go through a scanner and refuse, you are not alone. Get in touch: we will be keen to help you.
Off-licence in Hull starts fingerprinting customers
On Tuesday we were contacted by a supporter, who informed us that an off-licence owner in Bridlington had started collecting fingerprints from his customers to determine their age. The owner, Rod Parker, had installed a biometric scanner a week earlier, which reads a customer’s thumb or fingerprint and checks it against ID previously supplied by the customer.
The BBC wrote a full report on the story and BBC Look North also ran a 5 minute feature featuring Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch. There are several reasons why this idea should be opposed, not least the fact that if the original ID is false, then Mr Parker’s scanner system will make it far harder to detect an underage buyer in the future.
The privacy implications are even more problematic. Just like the government’s underhand attempts to sell ID cards to young people by promoting it as a “secure” form of identification, ignoring the fact it locks them into a lifetime of data insecurity; this off-licence is asking teenagers to hand over unique personal data, that could be very valuable in the wrong hands. A fingerprint is more precious than your PIN number – keep it safe!
Blogs of the week
Blackburn Council: you can’t recycle hair, you have to put it in landfill instead - an eco-friendly council threatens a barber who recycles his waste hair with imprisonment unless he puts the hair in the council’s commercial waste bins and sends it to landfill. Register your disapproval here
Schoolgirl punished for scratched Oyster card - an 11 year-old is going to have to complete six hours of community service after a ticket inspector found her photocard was scratched. The TfL behavioural code is supposed to stop rowdy behaviour, not give grudge-bearing inspectors free reign to victimise children
Album cover banned from tube for ‘looking like graffiti’ - A brace for TfL with the bizarre decision to ban Massive Attack’s latest album cover from the tube. Click the link and decide for yourself if this is resembles graffiti…
Reminder – An Unwarranted Intrusion
23rd February 2010 – 6.15 for 6.30pm – 55 Tufton Street, SW1, London
• Dominic Grieve QC MP – Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
• Henry Porter – Novelist and Columnist
• Harry Snook – Author, Crossing the Threshold: 266 ways the State can enter your home
• Alex Deane, Director – Big Brother Watch
Chaired by Jill Kirby – Director, Centre for Policy Studies
Please email [email protected] or ring 020 7222 4488 if you would like to attend.
Independent - Alex Deane: Demolish the myth that safety, in and of itself, is an absolute good
Press TV: Epilogue - Alex Deane reviews ‘The Assault on Liberty’ with Ken Livingstone and Rodney Austin
Elements – No scan, no flight
BBC South Today - Alex Deane interviewed by Steve Humphrey
The Spectator – Will British judges be “responsible” for the next terrorist attack?
Con Coughlin has an awful piece up at the Telegraph arguing that, in the light of today’s decision in the case of Binyam Mohamed, “if another al-Qaeda bomb goes off in London, the judges will be as much to blame as Osama bin Laden.” Seriously. That’s what he wrote. It’s as preposterous as it is repellent. Happily, over at Conservative Home, Alex Deane of Big Brother Watch does an excellent job dismantling this and the rest of Coughlin’s diatribe.
Leith FM – Alex Deane interviewed by Graeme Logan
BBC Look North – Alex Deane interviewed by Peter Levy
BBC News – Bridlington off-licence fingerprints customers
However, Alex Deane from human rights organisation Big Brother Watch, urged caution.
“First of all you want people not being malicious in the way they want to use personal information,” he said. “There will always be ways you can misuse personal data. You can always change your pin number and your password; your fingerprints are, of course, with you for life.”
BBC Radio Humberside - Alex Deane interviewed by Peter Levy
PlayPolitical – Alex Deane of Big Brother Watch voices his opposition to full body scanners at airports in a BBC Breakfast interview