News / Europe

Europe Debates Airport Security

Multimedia

Audio
Jennifer Glasse

European aviation officials are meeting in Brussels to discuss airport security measures and British authorities are doing the same as governments try to decide the best way to protect planes and air passengers in the wake of a failed bombing attempt on an American airliner on Christmas day.

The European Commission's aviation experts are meeting Thursday according to commission spokesman Fabio Pirotta.

"It is a meeting of aviation security committee and they are meeting to take stock of the situation following the incidents that happened over the holidays," he said.

While Pirotta would not say exactly what the committee will address, full body scanners are likely to be on the agenda.  European nations are divided as to whether to deploy them in airports.  Officials from some countries, like Germany have cited health and privacy issues.

The Netherlands and Britain have announced they will install scanners in the coming weeks. 

Barbara Hellfferich, another commission spokesperson, says there are currently no European Union rules preventing member states from introducing body scanners and the European commission's position is clear.

"It considers body scanners, if they meet the health standards and security standards, as a useful additional tool provided they do not contradict existing European legislation," she said.

In Britain, the heads of airport security are meeting with government officials to discuss rolling out new security measures.  The British prime minister's announcement  this week that scanners will be in U.K. airports in the next three weeks has sparked protest from civil liberties campaigners such as Simon Davies, of the group Privacy International.

"Here you have a machine that electronically strip searches people," he said.  "It strip searches them regardless of age or innocence, children, grandmothers, whomever.  The reality is this is yet another assault on the dignity of the public and rights of the public.  Now if you could prove that the machines are essential to  protection of our security, then I would say the use is proportionate."

Davies says he objects to the scanners not only because of privacy issues, but also because he says they are a waste of money.

"From a security perspective, money should be diverted to tried and tested proven methods of counter terrorism. Why divert finite resources to something which does not work, which has never ever been proved to work, just on speculation, on hypothesis that at sometime in the future it may?" he asked.

Aviation analyst Chris Yates says the scanners are effective, but have to be used with other security screening methods.

"Body scanners in and of themselves provide an additional capability, in terms of aviation security, but they are by no means the only answer.  Body Scanners are only the first element, we need to look at the profiling, we need to also look at the liquid aspect.  We need to look at advanced technology as well," said Yates.

That advanced technology includes trace detectors that can determine whether someone' was touched or been exposed to explosive material.  U.S. President Barack Obama called the failed Christmas day bombing an intelligence failure.  Yates says intelligence is only part of keeping travelers safe.

"Security has always got to be a mix of technique and technology.  So on the technique side, there has to be advances in the profiling of passengers, but not necessarily in terms of ethnicity, religion and so forth," Yates added.

It is not clear whether body scanners would have identified the failed Christmas day bomber, because they do not always detect liquids or plastic. Aviation officials say it was lucky the bomb did not detonate properly.  European governments are working to find aviation security measures that will not rely on luck.
 

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More