[LINK] new X-ray technology for Australian airports

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Fri Feb 25 15:36:09 AEDT 2011

At 14:44 +1100 25/2/11, Kim Holburn wrote:
>Just when you think that you don't have any more privacy to lose the 
>government comes up with a new and dangerous way.
>I'd love to see a risk assessment on this.  Let's just x-ray 
>everyone without a medical case.  Our society would be much safer, 
>except for the increase in cancer, but we're working on that.

My post to the privacy list this morning is below.

Apologies to Jan, Karl, and anyone else who's on both lists.

Got to leave shortly, to get to Tony's farewell!!


Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2011 09:37:34 +1100
To: privacy at lists.efa.org.au
From: Roger Clarke <Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au>
Subject: Body Scanning for Drug Courier Suspects

Minister for Home Affairs and 'Justice', incl. Customs:

In FY 2009-10, "Customs and the Australian Federal Police identified 
48 drug couriers attempting to import more than 27 kilograms of 
illicit drugs within their bodies  ...  205 people were taken to 
hospital for examination under suspicion of having drugs concealed 
internally. Upon medical examination, less than a quarter were found 
to be carrying drugs".

An amendment to the Customs Act has been tabled in the House of Reps, 
which would enable the use of body scanning.

"To conduct a body scan, Customs will have to form a reasonable 
suspicion that a person is carrying drugs internally and the suspect 
must consent to being scanned. If they refuse, they will instead 
undergo a hospital examination, which is the current practice".

"The option of an internal body scan will more quickly exonerate the 
innocent and ensure a minimum of delay for legitimate travellers," Mr 
O'Connor said.  'The use of internal body scanning technology at 
airports is also expected to present significant time and money 
savings to Customs, AFP and our hospitals'.  [Not 'our' technology, 
airports, money, Customs or AFP, but 'our' hospitals.  There must be 
some dorkish PR rule that says to associate the Minister with warm 
and cuddly things.]

"As Minister for Privacy, I'm acutely aware of community concerns 
about the use of such technology. I'd like to assure the public that 
this technology will be subject to strict controls.

"Most importantly, body scanning technology will not be used on all 
travellers or used randomly - it will only be used where there is a 
reasonable suspicion that a person is carrying drugs internally. In 
addition a suspect must consent to the use of body scanning 

'Measures to ensure privacy and individual rights are respected include:
*   law enforcement agencies form a reasonable suspicion that a 
person may be carrying illicit drugs internally before the technology 
can be used
*   a suspect must given written consent to being subject to body 
scanning technology. If they don't, a hospital examination will be 
conducted, as is the current practice
*   the operation of the body scanning technology will be conducted 
by a specially trained Customs officer
*   the images taken are subject to storage, access and destruction controls
*   children, pregnant women and the mentally impaired will not be 
offered a body scan.

'Customs and Border Protection is working with the Office of the 
Australian Information Commissioner to ensure that the use of the 
technology balances law enforcement needs with privacy concerns.'

Customs Amendment (Serious Drugs Detection) Bill 2011
Short Second Reading Speech:

Quick reactions:

BAD Features
-   no PIA
-   no consultative processes
-   establishes a precedent for the use for body scanners
-   [guess:] relatively high levels of radiation necessary

GOOD Features
-   reasonable grounds for suspicion
-   right of refusal
-   reasonably likely to be effective for purpose
-   establishes a precedent for the *responsible* use for body scanners

-   will it be cost-effective?
     If not, then its purpose is simply to be the thin end of the wedge:
     'Oooh, we've got this expensive technology installed and we don't
     make nearly enough use of it!'


[The article below is an all-too-common re-print of government 
information pretending to be journalism (but at least it gave some 
exposure to the Media Release).]

No place left to hide drugs with new X-ray technology for airports
By Matt Johnston
Herald Sun
February 24, 2011 3:07AM

New X-ray machines that highlight internal cavities will be trialled 
at airports

NEW X-ray technology that can reveal drug smugglers' internal 
cavities will be trialled at airports under a plan to fast-track 
security searches.

Legislation before Federal Parliament would enable customs officers 
to use new body scanners instead of sending suspects to hospital for 
internal X-rays ordered by a doctor, reported the Herald Sun.

Federal police wasted more than 4600 hours in hospital waiting rooms 
last year because of drug smugglers waiting for scans.

More than 200 people were taken to hospital for internal searches, 
with almost 50 found to have drugs in their bodies.

Drug couriers captured by Australian authorities at airports last 
year were carrying a total of 27kg of drugs.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said the scanners would also 
help innocent travellers.

"The option of an internal body scan will more quickly exonerate the 
innocent and ensure a minimum of delay for legitimate travellers," Mr 
O'Connor said.

He said the new X-rays would be used only if suspects agreed to undergo scans.

Mr O'Connor said people carrying drugs inside their bodies could die 
if bags split or leak, so it was important to check as soon as 

Specially trained customs officers would be authorised to screen the 
alleged smugglers.

Under current laws, an internal X-ray scan can only be done by a 
doctor at a hospital or surgery centre.

The proposed trial would start later this year, at a date to be set 
if legislation passes both Houses of parliament.

Mr O'Connor said he understood privacy concerns in relation to 
internal X-ray use, and the technology would only be used with strict 
controls, including destruction controls.

There would also be exemptions for pregnant women, people with mental 
impairments and those under 18.

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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