44 body scanners to be in Canadian airports by March

They can spend $44 million on just 11 of these scanners and technologies, the terrorists will come up with other creative ways to cause harm. I would suggest them to put these machines on Cruiseships next.  Then subways and trains. If it’s not the airplanes, they’ll find something else.

OTTAWA–The federal government says it is moving to install X-ray body scanners in 44 Canadian cities including Toronto’s Pearson Airport. The first eight machines in major airports across the country would be operational by March, with another 36 locations to follow in the months after that.

The scanners, recently approved in the U.K. and Netherlands, offer a revealing glimpse of air passengers – too revealing for some privacy advocates. But the government argues they are necessary to allay the concerns of jittery U.S. air authorities, who have clamped down after a Nigerian underwear bomber’s plot was foiled Christmas Day.

Announcing the measures, Transport Minister John Baird referred to the American incident, saying “we know” that individuals are targeting “our country and our allies…We must remain vigilant.”

The scanners require passengers to pass through a stand-up probe. The imaging machine penetrates a passenger’s clothing and projects a graphic three-dimensional picture of the human body onto a computer screen so a security guard may detect any hidden weapons or explosive devices.

The machines, which cost about $250,000 apiece, were tested by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority in 2008 in a pilot project in Kelowna, B.C.

In October, the federal privacy commissioner’s office approved CATSA’s proposal to employ the machines, but with strict privacy controls, which the agency accepted.

Assistant Commissioner Chantal Bernier said they should be used only for voluntary, secondary screening of passengers who failed to pass metal detectors but decline a further physical “pat-down” or frisk by a security guard.

The aviation safety agency accepted recommendations that the computer screens would be viewed in a separate room, with the screening officer unable to see the passenger, or any other identifying information.

Likewise, the recommendations urged that the officers outside the viewing room who are in direct contact with the air traveller would not be able to see the screened image.

Bernier told the Star Tuesday that CATSA has promised the images would be deleted from the system, and not retained even if evidence of criminal acts were found “because they would have the passenger and would not need to keep the image.”

CATSA says the scanners would not be used on children – a concern raised by Bernier and abroad. Some privacy advocates fear images of minors would be misused or breach child-porn laws.

The cities soon to see the scanners in use include: Halifax, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Regina, Ottawa, and Toronto. Gander could soon see them, as well, followed by other locations.

In the wake of the Christmas Day plot where a Nigerian man was stopped while trying to light an explosive mixture sewn into his underwear aboard a Detroit-bound plane, Ottawa said it was not speeding up the purchase of the machines.

However an official admitted today that the concerns in the U.S. have moved the government to expedite its plans.

The money was allotted for the project last spring, in a package to acquire a raft of newer technology for airports.