US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told an aviation conference in Abu Dhabi Tuesday that concerns over privacy should not hamper cooperation on airport security.
"I want to stress, I am respectful and cognizant of the privacy concerns," she told participants in the Regional Civil Aviation Security Conference, referring to protests against a US drive to use full body X-ray scans at airports.
"Respect for privacy is a value we share. But all countries have unique legal traditions, cultural differences, and political realities.
"I believe that we should not allow these differences to keep us from working toward a common goal and a deep and stronger partnership with respect to security and privacy," she said.
The move to introduce body scanners was made following the December 25 botched attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound US airliner after the alleged assailant, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, managed to pass airport security checks in Lagos and Amsterdam.
But civil liberties groups and Muslim groups have protested the move, because the body scanners provide full-body imaging.
Napolitano, who arrived in the United Arab Emirates from Saudi Arabia, said that technology advancement should be fully used against security threats.
"To effectively maintain the initiative in fighting terrorism and crime, we must also effectively utilise the intellect of our scientific community to pursue our common cause," she said.
"The December 25 attempted attack illustrated our adversaries' ingenuity and planning. This new bomb could not be detected by old technology," she added.
But she said that producers of the body scanners are already working on developing new machines that take privacy into consideration.
"Companies are devising imaging machines that can detect the kind of explosives hidden on the December 25 bomber but that can also protect privacy," she said.
© AFP 2017