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EPIC asks court to act on airport screening comments

AIT scanner

An electronic privacy group has again asked a federal court to act on an earlier order to make the Department of Homeland Security accept public input on its use of airport body scanners.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center on Dec. 28, asked a federal appeals court in Washington to enforce an earlier July ruling that required DHS to take comments on the Transportation Security Administration’s advanced imaging scanner program.  EPIC said it was its second motion to compel the department to comply with the court's order.

EPIC had said the TSA’s program to screen airline passengers using advanced imaging technology instead of magnetometers violated various federal statutes and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It said the program should have been the subject of notice-and-comment rulemaking before being adopted.

The court said in July that it agreed only partially with EPIC’s arguments. “Although we are not persuaded by any of the statutory or constitutional arguments against the rule, we agree the TSA has not justified its failure to issue notice and solicit comments,” said the ruling. It also said the screenings didn’t violate Fourth Amendment protections, as TSA doesn’t force AIT screenings, but offers alternatives.

In July, the court ordered DHS to "promptly" public comment, but, said EPIC, the agency has failed to respond. EPIC, and a coalition of privacy and civil liberties organizations, first petitioned DHS to undertake a public rulemaking in 2009.