On January 13, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) issued a letter to the Transportation Security Administration and lawmakers regarding the TSA’s recent decision to make airport body scans a mandatory procedure.
The coalition, which includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and anti-biometrics group the Constitutional Alliance, said they were writing to Congress “regarding the TSA’s recent claim that it can mandate whole body scanning for airline passengers.”
In December 2015, it was reported that the TSA was changing its procedures without notice, making full body scans mandatory for some passengers. Prior to this point, passengers could choose to opt out of the full-body scan machines and undergo a pat-down instead. The new procedures will allow the TSA to select passengers for mandatory body scans.
The letter states:
“We are representative of leading civil liberties, human rights, and non-profit organizations, across the political spectrum. Many of us previously petitioned the DHS Secretary to conduct a public rulemaking on the use of airport body scanners after the agency sua sponte decided to make a pilot project into a national program of electronically strip searching airline travelers.”
The letter states that in the lawsuit EPIC v. DHS, a federal appeals court ruled that the TSA failed to conduct a public rulemaking as required by the Administrative Procedure Act.
The same court also found that the body scans were not a Fourth Amendment violation because “any passenger may opt-out of AIT screening in favor of a patdown, which allows him to decide which of the two options for detecting a concealed, nonmetallic weapon or explosive is least invasive.” With the new rule changes, that option is no longer available for all passengers.
The coalition called for public hearings to study the TSA’s conduct as well as a temporary hold on full-body scanner funding and increased oversight of the TSA. The letter also demands the TSA be required to publish all de facto regulations, be required to evaluate the cost of screening procedures using whole body scanners, and calls for several changes to regulations to make sure any orders from the TSA are subject to judicial review as are other government actions.
The letter was sent to Representative Jason Chaffetz, Chairman, and Representative Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Below is the full list of coalition members:
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
American Civil Liberties Union
Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation
Center for Digital Democracy
Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Consumer Federation of America
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Cyber Privacy Project
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Security Counselors
National Workrights Institute
Patient Privacy Rights
Restore The Fourth
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)