We seem to be getting mixed messages today about the use of body scanners in Canada.
…we consider this technology to be inherently sensitive as it reveals an outline of the traveller’s body. Many people may perceive it as privacy invasive.
Pulat Yunusov has noted earlier that the personal privacy issues may not necessarily be as significant, given the low resolution and identity controls around the imaging.
Of greater concern is which individuals are selected for body scans. Bernier allayed these concerns as well in the same speech,
…the technology will be used only for secondary purposes, after an individual has already passed through the metal detector. What’s more, the scans will be voluntary, with passengers given the option of going through them, or having a physical pat-down.
Bernier repeated these criteria today in comments to the press, stating that it is only for those who have failed the metal detector test.
Travelers who are selected for secondary screening will be asked to walk through the wave scanner…
Although Merrifield did mention the alternative physical search, the metal detector is conspicuously absent – at least in media reports of the conference.
Removing the metal detector component of secondary screening makes the scans no longer voluntary. It also introduces a significant amount of arbitrariness and discretion into their use, making them subject to abuse.
Anyone compelled to go through a body scan without failing a metal detector test, or not informed of the alternative physical search if they do, should issue a complain while citing the PIA guidelines. At the very least, the Ministers should clarify what the criteria are for using the body scanners to avoid confusion among the public and by security officials.
Ministers of the opposition parties have noted that typically an issue like this would go before a Parliamentary committee, where such clarification would likely be sought.
But that’s right, we can’t do that because with have a Prime Minister that would prorogue politics over our safety.