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EPIC Files Lawsuit To Suspend Airport Body Scanner Use 559

Posted by Soulskill
from the shut-up-it's-cold-here dept.
nacturation writes "The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a petition for review and motion for an emergency stay, urging the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to suspend the Transportation Security Administration's full body scanner program. EPIC said that the program is 'unlawful, invasive, and ineffective' (PDF). EPIC argued that the federal agency has violated the Administrative Procedures Act, the Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Fourth Amendment. EPIC cited the invasive nature of the devices, the TSA's disregard of public opinion, and the impact on religious freedom."
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EPIC Files Lawsuit To Suspend Airport Body Scanner Use

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  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:15PM (#34137372) Journal

    Add the embrace of these devices to my list of disappointments in the Obama administration. Not that I'm surprised -- he telegraphed himself very plainly on civil liberties when he backtracked on FISA -- but I'm still disappointed.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:26PM (#34137552)

      Me too, but I don't think we're going to get anywhere on that without voters really being outraged about it. Seems like everyone outside of slashdot regards them as no different from the metal detectors.

      One time when flying with a friend, they had the backscatter machine. I decided to take a stand for privacy and said I didn't want to be scanned and submitted to a patdown. Everyone looked at me strange, and my friend loudly commented "Dude, you must have an embarrassingly small penis." Which was just plain mean and hurtful and totally not true at all (my gun collection is for defense, not compensation). But anyway, I don't think most people care about this. Naturally we're not going to get a politician shutting it down if no one cares abougt it

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by EdIII (1114411)

        Everyone looked at me strange, and my friend loudly commented "Dude, you must have an embarrassingly small penis."

        You know how to take care of a friend like that? You should have instantly replied, "At least I am not smuggling a key of heroin up my ass". Be really indignant for a second, but then instantly switch to shocked and terrified when you look back at the TSA agent. Then mouth, "I'm so sorry", to your friend.

        Good chance he will be walking really funny onto the flight.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Don't be an idiot.
      Do you think Obama ordered these? do you think the president makes all the decisions in all departments? How about he discuss thinks Obama does that's in his realm or responsibly? Plus, the order to go to this technology was made during the Bush administration; however even then it would be stupid to blame Bush. I can g on and on with factual reason on why Bush was a terrible president, but I will not put blame on him for things outside his responsibility, and for things he did not do. Ris

      • by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:32PM (#34137634) Journal

        do you think the president makes all the decisions in all departments?

        You know it was a Democrat that said "The Buck Stops Here", right?

        How about he discuss thinks Obama does that's in his realm or responsibly?

        TSA comes under Homeland Security which is a part of the Executive Branch the last time I checked. Guess who is in charge of the Executive Branch?

        OMG, my school board made a decision I don't like, that damn Obama!

        That's a stupid analogy. My school board is a local agency that's independent of the Federal (and State, for the most part) Government. TSA is nothing of the kind. Obama could fire the director of TSA tomorrow and end this bullshit policy if he was so inclined.

      • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:41PM (#34137792)

        Department of Homeland Security is a Cabinet level department, which means President Obama personally picked Janet Napolitano to be Secretary and she answers to him.

        On November 5, 2008, Napolitano was named to the advisory board of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. On December 1, 2008, Barack Obama introduced Napolitano as his nominee for United States Secretary of Homeland Security, she was confirmed on January 20, 2009. Janet Napolitano assumed the office of Secretary of Homeland Security on January 21, 2009.

        This isn't some minor functionary of the Federal Government deciding this, she has been pushing backscatter X-ray since the day she got her job.

      • by Cornelius the Great (555189) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:48PM (#34137972)

        Don't be an idiot. Do you think Obama ordered these? do you think the president makes all the decisions in all departments?

        Here's a small lesson in American government for you: the TSA reports to the Department of Homeland Security, which is a cabinet department of the Executive Branch. For anything under the Executive, the buck stops at the person residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. If the President makes an order not to use full-body scanners, the TSA would have no choice but to obey.

        While Bush was responsible during his term, don't pretend that Obama has nothing to do with current policies of TSA/DHS. He's been in charge for the past two years.

    • Chamberlain (Score:2, Insightful)

      He may look like Wilt, but he plays like Neville.

  • Congrats! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bchickens (255621) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:15PM (#34137378)

    I'm glad to see not everyone is taking this issue laying down. Seems like technology is getting more and more invasive as time goes by. Pretty soon everyone is going to be tracked even in there own home. Some already are!

    • ALERT (Score:5, Funny)

      by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@noSpAM.gmail.com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:29PM (#34137600) Homepage

      The GRAMMAR BOT 9001 has determined you have confused the words "their" and "there". An infraction has been added to your permanent record and your mother has been notified.

    • Re:Congrats! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aztektum (170569) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:37PM (#34137734)

      Technology isn't becoming more invasive. The use of technology by people in power is become more invasive.

    • Re:Congrats! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by raddan (519638) * on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:47PM (#34137940)
      My opinion runs contrary to most of Slashdot on this matter, so I don't expect this post to be visible for very long, but-- what's the big deal? I don't think you could make the case that airports don't have a legitimate interest in screening passengers. I usually agree with EPIC, but I don't in this case.

      Clearly, what offends people here is the invasive nature of the screening. But is it really all that invasive? They get what's essentially a contour map of your body. Big deal. The really invasive alternative is the pat down, or worse, the strip search. With these screeners, you just walk through, no clothing removal necessary.

      The problem is that you have an extremely low-probability event which causes a large amount of damage. This is where most Slashdotters have their heads in the sand. You are right that the amount of physical damage is minimal, but actual physical damage is not the goal of terrorists: spreading the message is the goal, and the spreading of that message is greatly heightened by a dramatic delivery, such as the deaths of innocent people. I think it's understandable that people would want to prevent that from happening as much as they want the physical harm from happening. In that light, I think a non-invasive (as in, you just walk through it) scanner is a nice technological solution. It's not perfect, of course, but it's a heck of a lot better than hoping something won't happen.

      I eagerly await your civil responses.
      • Re:Congrats! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:59PM (#34138174) Journal

        so I don't expect this post to be visible for very long

        I think your opinion is foolhardy but if you get modded down it's an abuse of the system. If I had mod points I'd toss one your way just for being brave enough to share your thoughts on this matter.

        I don't think you could make the case that airports don't have a legitimate interest in screening passengers.

        That legitimate interest needs to be balanced against individual rights and liberty. At what point do we decide that we've tilted too far against individual rights and give up on the notion of playing whack-a-mole with the people that seek to harm us?

        It's not perfect, of course, but it's a heck of a lot better than hoping something won't happen.

        But even when something has happened it's been halted by the efforts of the passengers. No attack on an American airline in the post 9/11 world has been successful. The question I would posit is why do we respond like frightened little children to failed attempts at doing us harm?

      • Re:Congrats! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Stargoat (658863) * <stargoat@gmail.com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:02PM (#34138254) Journal

        The 4th Amendment would seem to answer your question. A person has a right to no unreasonable searches. Removal of clothing (electronically) is unreasonable. The invasive pat-down is worse. Both are unconstitutional.

        Further, there is no evidence that these intrusive (and they are intrusive) searches makes the fliers any safer. This makes an unconstitutional act further unconstitutional, as it is even more unreasonable. The Federal invasion of privacy is unconstitutional and unconscionable.

        Most importantly, America is not and was never meant to be a safe country. It was meant to be a free country. Don't forget, had there been a Texan with a pistol on each of those airplanes on 9/11, there would have been no terrorist attack. We gave up the 2nd Amendment and the terrorists killed 3000 of us. How many will die from giving up the 4th?

        • Re:Congrats! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by KagakuNinja (236659) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:36PM (#34139772)

          Give me a fucking break. Had there been a "Texan on board with a pistol", there would have been 4 armed terrorists on each plane (and most likely, they would have exploited security flaws to ensure they had more and better guns than your hypothetical Texan Freedom Fighter)

          The terrorists exploited a flaw in how we dealt with hijackers. It wasn't about a lack of guns at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by chad.koehler (859648)
        The long term health effects of the backscatter are not known. This is effectively a low dose of radiation, applied over your entire body. For someone who frequently travels, this could be a legitimate concern. Also, the effects of radiation on bodies still in development is unknown. If it became necessary to travel with my kids, I would absolutely not allow them to go through the scanner. However, as it stands this means that I would have to subject my kids to a very thorough
  • or having you genitals felt up. Seriously that's their policy [marco.org]. They think if they subject everybody to public humiliation that people will opt for private humiliation instead.

    Personally, I'll go for the public. If they're going to be obnoxious, authoritarian jerks, they should be forced to do it where everybody can see them. I'll act like I'm gay and I enjoy it. I will act like I think they're gay, and they enjoy it. I will turn the humiliation tables around and ask them if they like feeling people's balls and vaginas up in public, if it turns them on.

    If enough people take my stance on it, they will quit this garbage in a hurry.

    Yeah, all you scaredy cat cowards people who think that somehow this will come back on me and make my life miserable. You know what, up yours. It's people like you that've gotten us where we are, and you should be ashamed of yourselves. For once in your life, show a little backbone and self-respect.

    • Agreed. If they insist on humiliating me, let me at least give them the task of feeling up my balls.
    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:21PM (#34137462) Journal

      I've gotten around every single pat down without having my genitals felt up by simply making eye contact with the security guard, eyeing him up and down once, and cocking an eyebrow.

      I'm sure one day I WILL come across a homosexual security guard and that will eventually backfire, but to this day I haven't had them reach more than 6 inches above my knees.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Shakrai (717556) *

        I've gotten around it by not flying anymore. Road trips for the win. Drove all the way to Salt Lake City last year. Drove all the way to NOLA this year. Sure, it limits me to visiting Canada and 49 of the 50 US States but it's better than the alternative, IMHO.

        • by zero_out (1705074)
          Too bad I can't drive between the U.S. and Europe. Or between Hawaii and anywhere. That would handle 95% of my travel needs.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by eleuthero (812560)
          Don't forget, there's always boats and space folding... err, wait, you don't know about that last one yet... boats... definitely still boats... and ultralights.
      • by devitto (230479) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:45PM (#34137890) Homepage Journal

        "I haven't had them reach more than 6 inches above my knees."

        Well, that might be fine for you, but I'm still outta luck. :-)

      • by hedwards (940851)
        It's not optional, or at least not for long. As soon as the devices are in all the airports, it'll be "assaulted with radiation so some perv can view you naked" or "let somebody fondle your bollocks." This is straight up sexual abuse on a scale that not even the Catholic Church has been able to manage.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Shakrai (717556) *

      or having you genitals felt up. Seriously that's their policy [marco.org]. They think if they subject everybody to public humiliation that people will opt for private humiliation instead.

      I loved the guy around here (and I wish I could find his post) that said something like: In 200 years we've gone from "Our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor" to "Sure, you can pat me down, I don't want to miss my connecting flight."

    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      there is one simple alternative: DO NOT FLY. When the Airlines see massive drop off in passengers when they feel this intrusive buttinsky security in the pocket book THEY will step in to help. Need to go to a meeting? do it online, going on vacation? see the local sites. If you must go overseas, try going by liner... Freedom begins when we all stop being cattle.
      • by Enry (630)

        No, the airlines will get a bailout from the government, like they always do.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        there is one simple alternative: DO NOT FLY.

        Fuck that. It's not the airlines screwing you in this case, why punish them*?

        Let's make the TSA employees feel like the assholes their bosses are instead. I find that much more agreeable.

        TSA is a joke. A former co-worker of mine accidentally carried a large box cutter, very similar to those used to hijack the planes on 9/11, through TSA security about six times before he realized it was in there and removed it. If there was one thing they should have figured out how to spot, it was that. But hey, they'

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      Ok, your a smart ass, the remove you out of the public areas for holding, and the social service to take care of the child you were traveling with. You're not allowed to talk to your child or call a lawyer. You might be held for 72 hours.

      Think about that a bit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        That thought is precisely what went through the head of that dude in the front of that tank column in Tiennemen Square, no doubt...

        I mean, whole 72 hours!!!

        Such abject cowardice as you exhibit is how all the despots of the world came to power.

        It is also the fundamental idea behind terrorism: that whiny "but what will happen to my lifestyle!?" or "but they will break my family apart!!!" people will always outnumber those who bleed and suffer in the fight for their freedom and that majority with the mental

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kilfarsnar (561956)

        Ok, your a smart ass, the remove you out of the public areas for holding, and the social service to take care of the child you were traveling with. You're not allowed to talk to your child or call a lawyer. You might be held for 72 hours.

        Think about that a bit.

        Think about that, indeed. We now live in a country that uses the threat of the things you mentioned to get us to allow them to treat us like criminals and curtail our rights.

    • by boristdog (133725) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:39PM (#34137764)

      I want to make a pair of pants where I can make the fly pop open automatically. Then I'll go commando so my wing-wang will flop out when they touch my crotch.

      I can scream "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!" at that point.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My planned response is to say "You can play with my balls all you like, but you can't take a picture of them."

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772)

      This often happens in oppressive regimes like governments... you offer a new taboo practice / a majority of people will be extremely uncomfortable with at first as an "OPTION", so the majority who would resist authority will not object.

      For example... voting, jury duty, institutional schooling, legal representation, keeping money in the bank, alimony/child support, charitable donations, armed forces recruitment (draft), auto insurance, social security, full body scan, health insurance / gov't health ca

    • by BassMan449 (1356143) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:55PM (#34138108)

      Personally I want to see a woman wear sweat pants through the checkpoint and wear fake silicone balls under them. I would absolutely love to see the look on the guards face when she runs into those.

      • by nege (263655) on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:19PM (#34138514) Journal

        I know you are trying to be funny, but what about transgendered persons? If a trans-female walks through one of these things (pre-op), should she be subjected to the questions that will bring up? It seems like an unnecessary and humiliating search.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by clone53421 (1310749)

          If a trans-female walks through one of these things (pre-op), should she be subjected to the questions that will bring up? It seems like an unnecessary and humiliating search.

          It seems humiliating because it is humiliating, and transgendered people shouldn’t get any special treatment. It wouldn’t help anyway...

          “Excuse me, why do I have to go through this and she didn’t?” “She’s transgendered.” “Oh...”

  • 4th Amendment (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:17PM (#34137406)
    Took long enough. I though it would be the ACLU but they seem to have really dropped the ball when it comes to the TSA. Here is the problem with all airport security theater. A dogs are better bomb sniffers than any machine. And B you can put a bomb up your ass. I suspect that the ACLU didn't go after the TSA because they too are turning into a bunch of ass covering bureaucrats and worried about the optics of them shutting down half this airport crap and then some dickweed blowing up a plane and their getting the blame.
  • But, you don't have to go through the scanner. You can always opt for a genital pat down instead! You can trade _seeing_ your genitals for _touching_ them if you want!

    So creepy...

    http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/10/31/0234232/TSA-To-Make-Pat-Downs-More-Embarrassing-To-Encourage-Scanner-Use [slashdot.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by speroni (1258316)

      I'll whip my junk out for the security guards before I go through the scanner.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:20PM (#34137444)

    This Friday night, come on down to Club Big Brother! We got a full body scanner, some disco balls, strobe effects, and some kickin' bass! The crowd will go wild when you step into the full nude scanner and it's shown on our 2 story high video wall! No cover for ladies and half-price drinks! Club Big Brother-because privacy violations are one big party!

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      This Friday night, come on down to Club Big Brother! We got a full body scanner, some disco balls, strobe effects, and some kickin' bass! The crowd will go wild when you step into the full nude scanner and it's shown on our 2 story high video wall! No cover for ladies and half-price drinks! Club Big Brother-because privacy violations are one big party!

      No no no no no .. no no ...you cannot advertise this event this way."No cover charge for ladies and half-price drinks!" is sexist and not allowed under anti-sexual discrimination laws.

  • My plan.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by wiredog (43288) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:24PM (#34137518) Journal

    Salon and the Atlantic report that you have to take off your belt when you go through these things. And that you have to raise your hands.

    So my plan (which all slashdotters should copy) is to wear loose pants and go commando.

    • Last week, I was going into Terminal 7 at LAX (United), and they were funneling people through a scanner. Eventually, the line got backed up (only one scanner for two lines) and they had to switch back to the metal detector about four people before I got to it. However, the requirements for the scanner got a little irritating beyond privacy issues. The TSA staff (who were actually being pleasant and helpful for once) said that everything had to be removed from the pockets: no wallets, cash, coins, jewelr

  • EPIC WIN! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:34PM (#34137666) Homepage

    ,,,

  • Just curious to see the "religious freedom" point in there.

    • by Barrinmw (1791848)
      Probably something about nudity...
    • by rotide (1015173)
      Last I checked certain religions don't allow women to show their faces in public let alone submit to naked pictures. Pretty sure there are less extremes than that particular religion that also frown upon getting nude shots taken of you.
      • by OzPeter (195038)

        let alone submit to naked pictures.

        They can have nekkid pics taken of themselves, but only their husbands are allowed to see them

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Martin Blank (154261)

      There are modesty requirements for several religions, including forms of Islam (well-publicized) and Judaism (not as well-known). Any sort of display of the flesh other than face or hands (and sometimes limits on those) is a violation of the religion, with narrow exceptions for family and doctors.

  • The only way to keep it fair is to keep it symmetrical. They are either acceptable to use in a public space by anyone, or they are not.

    Personally I am fine with these. I don't care who appears naked on the screen, myself included. I won't loose my mind if attractive woman is scanned or if an unattractive man is either. I consider that part of being a grown up.

    People are way too uptight about both their sexuality and their 'security.' This is best thing that could happen to American hypocrisy. IMO

  • Fly Naked (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tekrat (242117) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:32PM (#34139712) Homepage Journal

    Just you wait until someone does blow up a plane and went through the body scanner. Sooner or later they will make a bomb from threads of C-4 or whatever, sew it into a set of pants and shirt, and then we'll have to fly naked because the TSA is scared of clothing.

    They are already scared of shoes, toothpaste, hair gel, nail clippers, bottled water, yadda-yadd, ad-infinitum.

    Here's what I don't get. We had the "shoe-bomber" which in turn, made the TSA remove and inspect our shoes. Then last year we had the "underwear-bomber"... So how come the TSA doesn't make us remove and inspect our underwear?

    Just wait till some guy detonates a bomb he shoved up his ass. Then it's cavity searches for all.

    And the airline industry will slowly crumble from pissed off passengers refusing to fly. Or we'll just accept it by that time, just as we now accept the humiliation we currently go through.

The F-15 Eagle: If it's up, we'll shoot it down. If it's down, we'll blow it up. -- A McDonnel-Douglas ad from a few years ago

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