Comment on the TSA Nude Body Scanner Proposal

Following a court mandate in EPIC v. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently soliciting public comments on its airport nude body scanners. The court mandate was in response to EPIC's lawsuit in EPIC v. DHS, where EPIC successfully challenged the TSA's unlawful deployment of airport body scanners. The TSA will accept comments until June 24, 2013.

COMMENT NOW - express your views on the TSA Body Scanner program:
  • Describe the devices as "Nude Body Scanners."
  • Support "Regulatory Alternative #3."
  • Support the right of passengers to opt out and demand generic image filters
  • Describe any personal experiences
  • Post the link on Facebook
  • Tweet the link
  • Urge your friends to comment

Top News

  • EPIC Obtains Documents About TSA's VIPR Program: Through a FOIA request, EPIC has obtained documents (pt. 1, 2, 3) about the TSA's "Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response" program. Created in 2004, the VIPR teams worked with law enforcement agencies to conduct warrantless searches at public events, including festivals, sporting events, and bus stations. The TSA released to EPIC planning guidance, an operations directive, operating procedures, and activity summary reports. However, the EPIC request revealed that the TSA failed to complete civil rights and civil liberties impact assessments required by law. The VIPR program ended in 2019. The VIPR program used "risk-based" profiling and "behavior detection" to search and detain individuals. Two GAO reports (2013, 2017)questioned the reliability of TSA's behavioral indicators, which included, for example, "assessing the way an individual swallows or the degree to which an individual's eyes are open." (Feb. 21, 2020)
  • Congress to Consider Moratorium on Facial Recognition: POLITICO reports that House leaders will consider a moratorium on funding facial recognition following a House Oversight Committee hearing on DHS facial recognition programs. Prior to the hearing, EPIC briefed members of the House committee about the entry-exit program at US airports. Air travelers have reported that it is difficult to opt-out and the agency has still not conducted a required rulemaking. Last month, EPIC led a coalition of over 35 organizations urging Congress to halt the use of face recognition on the general public. In a statement in April to the House Appropriations Committee, EPIC recommended that Congress halt the funding for the facial recognition program at TSA, also within the DHS. After a Buzzfeed story featured documents obtained by EPIC about plans to expand facial recognition at airports, Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) called for the suspension of the program. (Aug. 22, 2019)
  • House Hearing Examines TSA Profiling: The House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing on TSA's policies to prevent unlawful profiling. In his opening statement, Chairman Thompson said "it is unconscionable that TSA has not developed better oversight procedures" to prevent discriminatory practices. EPIC recently submitted comments to the TSA on the agency's 2020 strategy for transportation security. EPIC routinely comments on TSA screening practices. EPIC successfully sued the agency to block the deployment of x-ray body scanners in US body scanners. (Jun. 7, 2019)
  • EPIC to TSA: Conduct Rulemaking on Facial Recognition: In comments to inform the Transportation Security Administration's 2020 National Strategy, EPIC recommended that TSA to suspend the facial recognition program at US airports. EPIC wrote, "The TSA's use of facial recognition lacks the safeguards necessary for implementation." EPIC has also warned lawmakers and the DHS about the biometric border program that incorporates deploy facial recognition. EPIC has urged the agency to undertake a notice and comment rule making that would provide the public with the opportunity to comment on the controversial program. EPIC successfully required TSA to conduct a rulemaking on its deployment of airport body scanners in EPIC v. DHS. EPIC also recommended that TSA incorporate the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence, endorsed by over 300 organizations and experts, for AI-based systems. (Apr. 26, 2019)
  • EPIC to Congress: Funding for TSA Facial Recognition Program Must Be Halted: EPIC has sent a statement to the House Appropriations Committee regarding the TSA's FY2020 budget request, urging Congress to suspend the "Biometric Entry-Exit" program until privacy safeguards are established. EPIC said Congress should halt funding for TSA's facial recognition program "until CBP establishes proper privacy assessments, policies and procedures, and oversight mechanisms." EPIC recently filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to determine whether travelers are able to to opt-out of facial recognition at airports. According to the CBP, the "alternative screening procedures" allow travelers to provide identification documents, such as a passport, and avoid facial recognition, which "is not mandatory for U.S. citizens." But research by EPIC indicates that CBP has made it increasingly difficult for travelers to opt-out. (Apr. 3, 2019)
  • EPIC Seeks Records on "Quiet Skies," TSA Airport Surveillance Program: EPIC submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Transportation Security Authority after renews reports that the agency secretly surveills airport travelers. The program, known as "Quiet Skies," uses teams of federal marshals to track and observe unsuspecting travelers while they are in the airport and on flights. A Government Accountability Office report on a similar program that used behavioral analysis found the program to be ineffective. The GAO report stated that the "Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques" program also raised significant concerns over racial and ethnic profiling. EPIC has urged TSA to undertake a comprehensive audit of the civil rights impact of airport screening policies on racial and religious minorities. (Jul. 31, 2018)
  • EPIC to Request Kavanaugh White House Records on Warrantless Wiretapping, Mass Surveillance Programs: EPIC is planning to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to the Bush Library and the National Archives and Records Administration for records concerning programs of mass surveillance and Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh served as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary for President George W. Bush between July 2003 and May 2006. During that time, the Bush administration undertook a wide range of mass surveillance programs, including the warrantless wiretapping of Americans, which was later deemed unlawful. On the federal appellate court, Judge Kavanaugh wrote that a suspicionless surveillance program "is entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment." "Critical national security need outweighs the impact on privacy occasioned by the program," wrote Kavanaugh. Other programs backed by the White House when Judge Kavanaugh served as White House Staff Secretary include Total Information Awareness, airport body scanners, and Real ID. (Jul. 30, 2018)
  • EPIC Urges Congress to Suspend Facial Recognition At US Airports: EPIC has sent a statement to the House Homeland Security Committee in advance of a hearing on the Transportation Security Administration. EPIC urged the Committee to limit the collection of biometric data at US airports. EPIC described the growing use of facial recognition that capture the images of US travelers. EPIC also pointed to a recent study that found racial disparities with the technique. EPIC previously pursued a significant lawsuit against the TSA that led to the removal of x-ray body scanners from US airports. EPIC is currently seeking records from Customs and Border Protection concerning the accuracy of facial recognition. (Feb. 26, 2018)
  • Republican DACA Bill Would Expand Use of Drones, Biometrics: The Secure and Succeed Act (S. Amdt. 1959 to H.R. 2579), sponsored by several Republican Senators, would link DACA with hi-tech border surveillance. Customs and Border Protection would use facial recognition and other biometric technologies to inspect travelers, both US citizens and non-citizens, at airports. The bill also establishes "Operation Phalanx" that instructs the Department of Defense—a military agency—to use drones for domestic surveillance. EPIC has pursued many FOIA cases on border surveillance involving biometrics, drones, and airport body scanners, In a statement to Congress, EPIC warned that "many of the techniques that are proposed to enhance border surveillance have direct implications for the privacy of American citizens." (Feb. 21, 2018)
  • EPIC Urges TSA to Consider Alternative to Biometric Collection: In comments to the Transportation Security Administration, EPIC urged the agency to consider alternatives to expanding the collection of biometric identifiers for the TSA Pre-Check application. EPIC explained the potential for biometric identifiers to be used for purposes other than determining eligibility for Pre-Check and the substantial personal privacy risks for applicants if the databases associated with Pre-Check were compromised. EPIC also proposed privacy enhancing alternatives, such as limiting the storage of biometric identifiers or providing information on how to have information removed from databases associated with Pre-Check. EPIC routinely highlights the risks of large, overbroad government databases and the privacy risks inherent in the collection of biometric information. (Jul. 5, 2017)

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