Travellers will be 'virtually stripped' at Melbourne airport

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Sydney, Oct 15 : For the next six weeks, travellers entering or leaving Melbourne Airport shall be 'virtually stripped' - for security purposes.

Transport security authorities are trialling the new "X-ray backscatter" body scanner, dubbed as a "virtual strip search," at Melbourne airport.

The new imaging technology, called the new millimetre wave imaging scanners, creates an image of an unclothed body.

While the testing will be entirely voluntary during the trial, it is currently being tested to see how the new scanners would affect the flow of passengers through the security point.

"It does see through clothing, but it's not a photographic image, it's a low-energy X-ray that reflects off the skin," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Cheryl Johnson, general manager of the Office of Transport Security, as saying.

She added: "It will show the private parts of people, but what we've decided is that we're not going to blur those out, because it severely limits the detection capabilities. It is possible to see genitals and breasts while they're going through the machine, though."

However, she claimed that there were a number of measures in place to tackle concerns about privacy.

Johnson said: "The faces are automatically blurred and ... it's only a chalk-style outline, it's not as invasive as some of the other equipment that we've got.

"The security officer that's looking at it is located away from the screening lane, so there's no comparison of the person walking through and the image. The images are not saved, you literally walk through, the screener hits a button to say clear and the image goes."

Along with the new scanners "next generation" baggage X-ray machines that can detect explosives in luggage, will also be tested at Melbourne Airport.

The trial will run till November, and after the analysis of result, the technology will be rolled out for real, possibly at domestic and international terminals.

ANI

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