It had been thought that anyone who objects to the machines on privacy grounds would be given a choice of undergoing different secondary screening such as a manual pat-down.
But speaking to MPs earlier today, Transport Minister Paul Clark announced that there would be no such opt-out clause and travelers who refuse to comply will not be allowed airside.
Heathrow Airport is rolling out the experimental technology next week in response to a perceived heightened threat from terrorism following the Christmas Day Detroit bomb scare.
The new machines will be accompanied by a raft of other security measures – including “behavioral profiling” and improved global intelligence sharing – and their introduction comes as Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, put the UK on alert by raising the country’s terror threat level to “severe”.
In spite of the pressing security concerns, however, civil liberties campaigners have persisted in opposing the technology on the grounds that it violates privacy by seeing under clothing.
“We are talking about very intimate pictures,” a spokesman for the The Equality and Human Rights Commission told The Times. “To be blunt, one could imagine a bunch of loutish security guards seeing some attractive women in the queue and all rushing into the office saying, ‘Let’s have a look’.”
Supporters of the technology insist that the machines merely depict a hazy outline of body contours, with measures in place to ensure that machine operators cannot take pictures.