The rapid introduction of full body scanners at British airports threatens to breach child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children, the Guardian has learned.
Privacy campaigners claim the images created by the machines are so graphic they amount to “virtual strip-searching” and have called for safeguards to protect the privacy of passengers involved.
Ministers now face having to exempt under 18s from the scans or face the delays of introducing new legislation to ensure airport security staff do not commit offences under child pornography laws.
They also face demands from civil liberties groups for safeguards to ensure that images from the £80,000 scanners, including those of celebrities, do not end up on the internet. The Department for Transport confirmed that the “child porn” problem was among the “legal and operational issues” now under discussion in Whitehall after Gordon Brown’s announcement on Sunday that he wanted to see their “gradual” introduction at British airports.