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Customs testing body scanners

Posted on July 31, 2011

New Zealand Customs have been trialling body scanners at Auckland Airport and are now working on plans to implement them.

Green Party MP Keith Locke says that using such equipment is illegal as they are banned by the Aviation Crimes Act.

with respect to a person searched under subsection (1), a member of the police, an aviation officer, a Customs officer, or an agent of the carrier authorised by the carrier for the purpose may not use an aid or device that produces an unclothed image of the person.

We also had concerns about both the desirability and legality of this body scanning technology and wrote to the Minister of Customs, Maurice Williamson, earlier this year expressing our concerns. He responded (PDF) that while it was illegal to use body scanners for the purposes of aviation security, it was allowed under the Customs and Excise Act 1996 for the purpose of searching for contraband.

However, Keith Locke responds that the language used when the Aviation Crimes Act was amended in 2007 very clearly showed that Parliament's intention was to "...prevent any production of an unclothed image ... there was no hint of any exception."

Maurice Williamson says that he is not aware of any plans to further amend the Aviation Crimes Act.

Posted by Thomas Beagle