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In order to fly out of Pereira, Colombia, today, I was forced to do a full-body x-ray. I was allowed to see the x-ray and it was very detailed, showing bones and internal organs, but I was not allowed to take a photo of the image. I wanted the photo for my own benefit since I've had some stomach problems lately (and for future comparisons) and since I had already "suffered" the x-ray radiation.

Can I legally fight the photo denial? Is there a way to either succesfully take a photo next time or to sue the government? My thinking is that the forced image of my body belongs more to me than to the police.

I imagine that this question is hard to answer for Colombia, so would accept an answer which would apply in case this ever happened in California, USA.

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  • Are you using "forced" in a legal sense? Did you have the option not to fly? Dec 24 '18 at 12:01
  • Yes, I had the option not to fly.
    – bobuhito
    Dec 24 '18 at 12:13
  • @bobuhito I imagine this question is relatively easy to answer for Colombia, but not as far as I'm aware by any regular contributor to this site. Perhaps we can recruit a Colombian lawyer to join and answer. Does anyone here have fluent Spanish?
    – phoog
    Dec 24 '18 at 15:53
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    Whatever your rights to your own personal data according to Colombian law, in many counties there are laws forbidding taking pictures in security sensitive areas (and certainly a police control in an airport would usually qualify). And while you may argue that your picture would not have been a security risk, the safe action for the police officer is to prevent you from taking. Also, they do not want people disturbing them and letting the place while they still have to inspect lots of other passengers.
    – SJuan76
    Dec 24 '18 at 17:35
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    "basically no extra cost/time" - this is evidently false to anybody who has dealt with arranging a high volume of individual emails internationally. How are you getting the photo to the server, especially from a device never intended for it? What about their details? What privacy laws do you have to worry about? (hint: all of them) and where do you find, in an understaffed underfunded department, the effort and resources to do all of this in a secure way?
    – Nij
    Dec 24 '18 at 20:02
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This paper (Canadian author, but references from across North American and Europe) suggests an answer - the scanners are configured so every image is deleted immediately after use.

It's not that airport authorities are keeping pictures of you to which you're entitled - quite the opposite. As a privacy measure no one - including both you and the airport authorities - is entitled to make or retain a copy of the image.

Not only would there be no legal basis to insist on a copy, you would be asking for something that ceased to exist the moment you left the security area.

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    You might be able to argue the privacy point somewhat, but I had my camera ready to take a picture before anything got deleted (and was stopped).
    – bobuhito
    Dec 24 '18 at 12:17
  • I'm going to take the lack of other answers to mean that no one sees a way to get a picture (or simply to get out of the x-ray and still fly) in the future and mark this as the answer...but let me wait a few more days.
    – bobuhito
    Dec 29 '18 at 4:36
  • @bobuhito - If there's a policy of not retaining pictures there wouldn't be a practical (let alone legal) way to obtain a copy, and most airports I've experienced don't permit passenger photography in the security area. Flying without a scan might be possible (for example the "enhanced body search" mentioned here : gov.uk/government/publications/…), but this is likely to be subject to airport and jurisdiction - it would be wise to call and ask the airport first. Jan 1 '19 at 9:34

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