38

There are a lot of EU laws about travelling through airports. We've all seen the signs about asking for your rights. So is there any EU law about body scanners? Is there an EU law that says I am always allowed to refuse to use them?

I'm not talking about traditional X Ray machines metal detectors , I have no problem with them, but the newer sub-millimetre "naked" machines.

  • 20
    You'd be strongly advised to refuse if anyone at an airport wants you to go through an X-ray machine. Terrahertz is at least harmless. – CMaster Feb 8 '16 at 15:36
  • 9
    I've a had a few hand searches in Europe which were really quite invasive. So you basically have the choice between having your privates looked at or manually handled and squeezed. Pick your poison. – Hilmar Feb 8 '16 at 17:41
  • 5
    Remember its "opting out" not "refusing" – Raystafarian Feb 8 '16 at 19:52
  • 2
    @CMaster At least for a while, they really did use x-ray backscatter machines for the body scanners at some airports. I think most or all of them have been replaced by millimeter wave scanners now, though. – reirab Feb 8 '16 at 23:25
  • 4
    Pre-Snowden I was silent as I thought I am in tin foil territory but no longer: how hard would it to exfiltrate data from these scanners without the agents on spot knowing? And to put a name on the scans, how hard would it be to run a facial recognition against the database of people who, per the manifests, are expected to be in that machine at that time? Bonus question: what do you know actually what those scans can show, beyond what the agents see there? – chx Feb 9 '16 at 0:43
63

The EU policy is crystal clear:

passengers must be given the possibility of opting out from a security scanner. In this case the passenger shall be screened by an alternative screening method including at least a hand search;

The UK government, as usual in its bizarre anti freedom ways, tried to resist opt outs going so far in 2010, per this Guardian article

Earlier this month two women, one a Muslim, became the first people to be barred from boarding a flight at Manchester airport because they refused to go through a full-body scanner.

but as of November 22, 2013 you can opt out at every UK airport as well. However, if you do, they will make sure to make your life miserable: in 2017 August, I was picked for the full body scanner at Heathrow T2 and after opting out they have removed and inspected every single piece from my carry on. This was a lot of fun as I was travelling for six months and there were a lot of pieces. I have no idea what happens if you are late from your flight because of this charade, I caught my flight, even if barely. It took about 30-35 minutes.

  • 16
    The UK "opt out" is a bit of a palaver. The Home Office resented its introduction into domestic law and has done all it can to make it unenjoyable. Heathrow in particular is instructed to make your journey very miserable if you insist on opting out---expect it to take about an hour. At one point you had to fill in a form. All your bags will be hand searched as will anyone travelling with you. – Calchas Feb 10 '16 at 2:26
  • 1
    I have rolled this back in light of travel.stackexchange.com/questions/77241/… Also note one CCTV for every ten person in Britain. – chx Aug 23 '16 at 9:21
  • I don't understand the relationship of the link and this answer. – Calchas Aug 23 '16 at 10:05
  • No, the relationship is between the rollback and that thing. – chx Aug 23 '16 at 10:45
  • 2
    @Calchas confirmed, just happened to me yesterday. – chx Aug 10 '17 at 9:45

protected by Community Sep 28 '17 at 11:33

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.