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November 21, 2013

I am pleased to announce that as from the 22nd of November 2013, the UK government’s “No Scan / No fly” rule in which air passengers who refuse to pass through a body scanner were refused the right to fly, is to be scrapped.

The rule, which has been in place at UK airports since February 2010, was deemed to be illegal by the European Commission earlier this year and as a result the Secretary of State for Transport (UK) has just announced that passengers will have the choice of an alternative pat-down screening procedure.

This is marvelous news and in my opinion marks the beginning of the end of this Draconian security measure.

I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been involved in this campaign over the last four years, from signing petitions, lobbying MPs and MEPs, writing to airports, airlines and government departments, participating in the public consultations and generally spreading the word about the dangers of this technology. It has been a hard, drawn-out battle, but we are finally beginning to win!

However, while the battle may be won, the war is not over yet. We still need to fight the No Scan / No Fly rule in Australia and we still need to alert the public all around the world to their rights and convince them to exercise their right to opt out from the scanning process.

Well done everyone!–2

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Alan Tench permalink
    November 21, 2013 7:55 pm

    Winning you say? Maybe not. The alternative to the scan is a so-called “private search”. So, you go into a private room where who knows what type of sexual assault could occur, as you are forced to loosen or remove some items of clothing. Hardly anyone will opt for this and will just hold up their hands (literally) to the millimetre wave (active, not passive, I assume) radiation.

    • November 21, 2013 8:10 pm

      I agree Alan, but one step at a time. Invasive pat downs must not be tolerated either. That’s our next mission, perhaps. The good news is that those airports that have been obliged to implement scanners, seem to be using them very little, if at all. It seems we might be beginning to return to a more rational form of security.

  2. Frustrated Traveller permalink
    November 21, 2013 10:42 pm

    I’m afraid I share Alan’s cynicism. From the government press release, “work is underway with those airports which already deploy security scanners to consider the case for increasing their deployment of security scanners”.

    Of course, it’s good that the UK is finally complying with EU law without dragging it out in a long court process.

    One low hanging fruit we should perhaps look at in the future is compliance with this following sentence of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1147/2011:

    “Before being screened by a security scanner, the passenger shall be informed of the technology used, the conditions associated to its use and the possibility to opt out from a security scanner.”

    The general population isn’t going to opt out unless they know that they can, and unless they know the nature of the machines. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this requirement is ignored.

  3. alexjustsayno permalink
    November 22, 2013 4:14 pm

    Brilliant news! Well done to all the refusers including myself. This has made my weekend! Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2013 15:31:48 +0000 To:

  4. Sandy D permalink
    January 9, 2014 6:43 pm

    The L-3 Scanner where I work is as follows:
    ProVision does not use X-rays or any ionising radiation
    The signals created by ProVision are a fraction of other commercial radio frequency devices.
    It takes seven seconds to make a scan. Much quicker than a pat-down activation after walking through the metal detector.
    They will not go away. Every airport in the UK will have them.
    If a passenger refuses to take a scan, they will be offered a pat-down search, in private.
    their luggage will also be subject to a full search, so now, by refusing to take a scan of seven seconds has now taken over ten minutes to clear a passenger.
    Passengers are only delaying themselves, not causing a problem to security staff. They’re not the ones flying!

    • January 9, 2014 7:15 pm

      And why would a hand frisking take 10 minutes? I have been frisked scores of times in my life and it has taken seconds on each occassion. Unless, of course, the intention of the airport security policy is to blackmail passengers through a scanning process they would prefer not suffer. Could it be that? More UK airports are about to receive scanners, but I am willing to bet money with anyone that they will be quietly decommissioned within 5 years – not for rights reasons nor for health fears, but because they are slow, ineffective, expensive and in the words of a Hamburg Airport police spokesperson “useless”.

  5. January 9, 2014 7:28 pm

    Also, could you clarify where it DfT mandated that the refusee’s checked-in luggage should be searched. And if not, could you let us know which airport is doing this?

    • ConcientiousObjector permalink
      January 22, 2014 9:56 pm

      I travelled through Edinburgh Airport tonight where they’ve installed two L3 scanners directly behind the metal detectors.
      The alarm sounded and I was directed to the L3. I asked to opt out but was refused even though I suggested the options of a ‘pat down’ or even a strip search in a private room if they wanted.
      I just have a problem that civil liberties are being chipped away without recourse. Air travel security is completely disproportionate in my opinion.
      The security manager was called, took my travel documents including my passport and at one point refused to give them back to me stating that I was in a secure area and he was entitled to hold them. I went through the scanner in the end but I’m not happy at all.
      The airport web site states that opt out is not available and then displays the link below for more information. The directive detailed below (1 of 2) lists Edinburgh airport in Annex E as one of the airports that the directive is applicable to.
      I’m writing to the author of this document, Martin Jones, and the Airport Operator to seek clarification on their policy and implementation of security at this airport.

      • January 22, 2014 10:54 pm

        Hi there
        Sorry to hear about your awful experience at Edinburgh. This sounds like the typical thuggish behaviour we have come to expect at the airport (but not yet tolerate). It’s all about money, I’m afraid, and the security staff are too dumb to see that the scanners are there to eventually replace them. It is in the airport management’s interests to scan more passengers than hire security staff in order to meet international agreements and quotas on passenger searches. So, they tell the thugs working security to get their quota of passengers through the scanners instead of precious second-wasting moments frisking them [sarcastic tone].
        However, …
        Two illegal acts were committed against you at Edinburgh:
        1) Refusing you an alternative screening method. The law is, in fact, an EU ruling from 2011. It is a Hman Rights issue and the ruling is based on the EU Human Rights Charter, therefore any legal cases would more than likely end up in the European Courts.
        2) Your identity documents were taken coercively from you by another member of the public (security guard). They have no right to demand your passport and no law mandates that you need to show your passport to anyone other than a member of authority, such as a government agent (police officer, immigration officer, etc. . .). There is an exception for airline check-in staff, but theoretically, you do not ever need to show your passport to anyone other than immigration control and the airline. The airport security at Edinburgh is a private company with no more legal power over you than the poor guy who scrubs the toilets.

        My suggestion is, before your anger subsides, write to Edinburgh airport, with your MP and MEP in copy, demanding the CCTV footage of you passing through security. They have a legal obligation to supply you with that footage. It’s important to have someone in copy as the impression given implies legal threat.

        Once you have that, get back in touch.

        Thanks for writing.


      • January 23, 2014 2:43 pm

        Hi! I’m so sorry to hear of your experience and am glad you are complaining. For ongoing support during this, please join the facebook group “SCRAP THE SCANNERS – Against Body Scanners”. I’m an admin of the group. Also, feel free to add me, my name on facebook is Mia Mantri.

  6. ConcientiousObjector permalink
    January 23, 2014 11:20 pm

    Thanks Sam and Mia. I’ve written to the COO of Edinburgh Airport seeking clarification on the matters.
    I’ve copied the letter to the issuer of the Department of State for Transport direction [issued to Edinburgh and seven other airports in the UK in November 2013 ] including the information regarding the right to opt out and detailing the alternative methods of search available.
    I have also written to my MEP to reference my concerns.
    Will let you know how I get on.

    • Concientiousobjector permalink
      February 6, 2014 8:54 pm

      Guess what? Edinburgh has FINALLY implemented the direction issued in November 2013 and allows ‘opt out’. I am seeking assurances from the airport operator that security are trained properly and that they are continued to be made aware that they are not in a position to demand travel documents, including passports.

  7. February 6, 2014 9:07 pm

    Good news,but as you can see, it takes a little push and shove from conscientious people just to get what is rightfully everyone’s.
    Well done!

  8. Thomas permalink
    February 22, 2014 10:04 pm

    I opted out successfully in Edinburgh a few weeks ago. I was asked for my “travel documents” and showed only my boarding pass, the details of which were noted. I was subjected to a slow frisk search in a private room, a hand held metal detector check, and my carry-on baggage was fully searched and explosive trace detection equipment used.

    The security supervisors had made several efforts to get me to submit to a scan, but I was not having any of it.

    • February 22, 2014 10:29 pm

      Thank you Thomas! A very sincere thank you! So many people fear saying the word “no”, but as you have demonstrated, it’s not all that hard.

      There are still some issues to iron out with the new system. Airport security is acting illegally under EU law if they imply that you ‘have to’ submit your ID. Think about it. When do you normally show your passport? To the airline staff and to customs officials when you arrive at your country of destination. Airport security are private companies and are therefore, under EU law, not permitted to coerce you into revealing your identity. Airline staff are permitted to do it simply because they have a “ticket not-transerable” clause which the EU decided long ago was reason enough to ask for your passport. The ONLY time you ever have to show your passport or legally demonstrate your true identity is in front of an officer of “authority” (Police, customs, judges, etc…).

      I will chase this up at some point because this is little more than state-sponsored criminality. If you search the EU Transport commissioner’s site, you’ll see that it is illegal for anyone other than the police or customs to demand the ID of passengers (I can’t remember the exact law and number at the moment). Airport security is always run by private firms in the UK and NOT by any kind of authority.

      Well done!

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