Melbourne Airport gets controversial body scanners

By danwarne, September 2 2011
Melbourne Airport gets controversial body scanners

Melbourne Airport's international terminal will trial controversial 'millimetre wave' body scanners this month.

Passengers will be given the option of walking through the conventional 'arch' or using the new full-body scanner during the trial period, which starts on Monday September 5th and continues to the end of September.

In similar trials conducted at Sydney International Airport last month, over 4,000 passengers passed through the scanners over a three-week period – the first of whom was Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese (shown below).

Anthony Albanese walks through the millimetre wave scanner
Anthony Albanese walks through the millimetre wave scanner

The millimetre-waves are about 10,000 times weaker than a mobile phone signal, and considered much safer than the backscatter x-ray scanners that are used at some US airports.

There is not scientific consensus over the safety of the scanners, though. One study by Los Alamos National Labs argued that standards had only been established for radio frequency exposure up to 300 gigahertz, and millimetre wave scanners were above this range.

Even though the strength of the waves is extremely low, the close-to-terahertz radiation used by the scanners could damage DNA in cells.

This is the second time the scanners have been tested in Australian airports. They were previously trialled in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide airports in October/November 2008, with over 70,000 passengers volunteering to be "imaged" by the machines. The government did not say why it needed to re-test the machines following the initial trial.

What the scanners will show

The scanners detect metal and non-metal items under clothing, and then pin-points where the item is hidden using a generic human outline (not the 'naked' images generated by scanners in the USA.

The government says the machines will not store any imagery of passengers (however, the US government also made this assurance, before saved passenger images were leaked to a tech blog by a whistleblower.)

Passengers not wanting to try the body scanner will proceed through standard screening procedures.

The government gave no warning of the introduction of the millimetre wave scanners, and has instead been focusing on the introduction of backscatter x-ray scanners to be used only on incoming passengers suspected of concealing drugs internally.

Another type of scanner that emits no radiation at all, but simply senses emissions from the human body was recently tested at Sydney Airport.


09 Jun 2011

Total posts 3

Hooray for security theatre...


01 Aug 2011

Total posts 1

No to scanners. I can't wait for the agenda to progress into the next phase. We're all in the cooker.

01 Aug 2011

Total posts 3

It is impetative that people reject using this big-brother technology and dangerous technology.

This type of initiative is unAustralian. We are not America, not do we want to be like America.

If Australians tollerate this then you can expect more of this kind of thing at banks, shopping centres, train stations, etc.

I swear if people accept this, then next will come the palm/thumb scanners and iris scanners. We will be programmed into a sourveilance society, where we are constantly tracked and logged.

The Government will play this type of crap off as fighting terrorism, but the phantom Al-Quaeda don't exist, nor have they ever. They are a CIA phantom enemy that pops up as an excuse to introduce tyranny by stealth. It seems the current Australian Government are trying to play this similar card on us.

There is also the fact that these machines project X-RAY's at your body! X-rays are ionizing radiation that fragment your DNA, causing genetic mutation.. CANCER!


If people continue to accept this crap, then you are all trully stupid.

02 Sep 2013

Total posts 11

Till a terriost attack happens in Australia...... Then your mind will change

01 Aug 2011

Total posts 3

They are going on trial because the Government is testing the Australian people if we are going to play ball and accept this tyranny. RESIST!

01 Aug 2011

Total posts 3

Also, this article is flawed. Back-scatter radiation does produce ionizing radiation and should correct this mis-leading article. Conduct your own research and you will see I am right.


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 177

This is millimetre wave scanning, though, not backscatter x-ray -- two totally different technologies.

27 Jul 2011

Total posts 42

Where are all these people coming from?

The safety studies should be fast-tracked so if they are safe we can bring in these much more efficient and secure scanners as soon as possible.

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