Mar 26 2013

TSA proposes new “rules” for virtual strip-search machines

More than 18 months ago, a federal Court of Appeals ordered the TSA to provide formal notice and an opportunity for public comment on its “rules” for when travelers are required to submit to virtual strip-searches by machines that display images of our bodies as though naked.

Today, after seemingly endless foot-dragging that left it unclear if the TSA would ever comply with the court’s order (or would eventually be found in contempt of court for failing to do so), the TSA published its proposed rule in the Federal Register.

You have until June 24, 2013 to tell the TSA what you think of its proposal.

As Jim Harper of the Cato Institute¬†points out, the proposed “rule” contains none of the (inadequate) limitations on the TSA’s virtual strip-search authority which were described in the TSA’s arguments to the Court of Appeals. (We’ll be talking with Jim and Ginger McCall of EPIC about this and related issues of “Travel Surveillance, Traveler Intrusion” at this lunchtime event at Cato in Washington next Tuesday, April 2nd.)

Rather than proposing a rule pursuant to which travelers would be entitled to opt out of the naked imaging (at the price of more intrusive groping of their genitals) , the TSA has proposed a rule in which, in addition to whatever else the TSA secretly defines as constituting “screening” in any particular case, all travelers are required, as a condition of travel by common carrier, to submit to virtual strip-searches whenever the TSA tells them to do so.

But that’s not the only glaring defect in the TSA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Read More