The TSA Violated Federal Law When Implementing Body Scans And Groping Procedures
The Electronic Privacy Information Center took the TSA to court when the security agency began their body scanning and “enhanced screen” (a/k/a junk groping) programs questioning whether or not they were constitutional. Unfortunately, an appeals court just ruled a year go, 3-0, that the screening techniques are constitutional finding that because the screenings are not intended to establish whether or not a passenger is a criminal but are rather “administrative searches” intended to promote public safety.
The court wrote in their opinion that the government’s interest in safety must be balanced with the public’s right to privacy, and in this case “That balance clearly favors the government.”
You can bet, administrative screening or not, that if the TSA found a joint or some other evidence indicative of a crime, during a search you would be held accountable. The court is drawing distinctions between searches that, as a practical matter in the real world, don’t exist. Whether I’m being searched for administrative reasons or as part of a criminal investigation, my privacy is still being violated.
But I digress. That the federal courts would uphold the TSA’s intrusive procedures was all but assured given the deterioration of privacy rights in the eyes of the courts over the years. What’s more interesting is that the court did rule that the TSA broke federal law when they implemented the screening tactics without first holding public hearings:
Judge Douglas Ginsburg, writing for the majority, said the TSA must allow for the 90-day notice-and-comment period because of the new “substantive obligations” on airline passengers.
“It is clear that by producing an image of the unclothed passenger, an AIT scanner intrudes upon his or her personal privacy in a way a magnetometer does not. Therefore, regardless whether this is a ‘new substantive burden,’ the change substantively affects the public to a degree sufficient to implicate the policy interests animating notice-and-comment rulemaking, Ginsburg wrote.
“Indeed, few if any regulatory procedures impose directly and significantly upon so many members of the public. Not surprisingly, therefore, much public concern and media coverage have been focused upon issues of privacy, safety, and efficacy, each of which no doubt would have been the subject of many comments had the TSA seen fit to solicit comments upon a proposal to use AIT for primary screening.”
The TSA was ordered to hold public hearings about the screening tactics promptly. A year later, they haven’t happened yet.
Such is the state of the rule of law here in the United States.
Meanwhile, the man with the largest schwanz in the world caught the attention of the TSA in San Francisco recently for, uh, obvious reasons. This is the world we live in now. If your genitalia is too large it may draw the suspicious eyes of the TSA.Tags: privacy, tsa