Ayinde O. Chase
Nov 5, 2010
Washington, DC, United States (AHN) – A leading privacy group is urging a federal appeals court to put an end to the government’s plan to implement full-body imaging machines at airports nationwide.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is moving forward with a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security for unilaterally mandating the use of the machines as the primary screening technique.
In March, the Transportation Security Administration began the program by deploying 450 of the machines in dozens of airports across the country. EPIC filed its suit in July with the aim of enacting an emergency stay in the program. The federal appeals court denied their request, but allowed the lawsuit to proceed.
In a 55-page opening brief filed this week, the group said the machine scans violate the Fourth Amendment, the Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act.
“The suspicionless search of all airport travelers in this most invasive way violates the reasonableness standard contained in the Fourth Amendment,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC, said Tuesday.
He went on to say that the devices, which will ultimately cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion, were designed “to store and record and transmit the unfiltered image of the naked human body.”
Chip Pitts, co-plaintiff in the suit, believes at the very least the program needs to be the subject of a deeper investigation. “We’re sleepwalking into a surveillance society,” Pitts said.
The government is expected to respond next month to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.