While being stripped naked by US airport technology might make some travelers uncomfortable, the TSA has further elevated concern by refusing to hold public hearings regarding its rules and regulations of nude full-body scanners.
A year ago, the Transportation Security Administration was ordered to hold public hearings regarding the use of its full-body scanners at US airport security checkpoints – hearings that never occurred, reported Wired.
In a lawsuit brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in July 2011, claiming the body scanners were intrusive and unconstitutional, the US Circuit Court of Appeals declined to block use of the scanners – but ordered the hearings.
Under the Administrative Procedures Act, the TSA would have to go through a 90-day “notice and comment” period for any rules that would affect the rights of the public.
Critics of the machines, including worried air passengers, claim that the radiation used by the scanners to see through clothes are privacy violations and threats to ones health. Some have questioned the scanner’s effectiveness, worrying that the machines might not detect explosives taped to a person’s body – or placed inside the body. These concerns, among others, would have to be addressed at the hearings.
But after the hearings failed to materialize, EPIC continued to file motions to order the TSA to get moving.
After denying two of EPIC’s motions, the federal appeals court finally ordered the TSA to explain itself and hold the hearings by the end of this month, disclosing its rules and regulations regarding the scanners to the public.
The court made its decision Wednesday, and TSA is now required to respond by August 30. Before the court order, a TSA spokeswoman told Wired that the hearings were not expected until next year.
“The tired and tormented citizens of the United States will have to wait until August 30 to see whether they might be able to have a word on the subject of the machines that look like they were built for a prime-time game show,” wrote Chris Matyszczyk, a blogger for CNET News.
Although the TSA switched to software that displays less revealing images of passengers, it may still face tough questions from a public that demands to know if their virtual unclothing is worth it.