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Security

Submission + - Appeals Court Caves to TSA Over Nude Body Scanners (wired.com)

OverTheGeicoE writes: The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) recently filed a petition to force the Department of Homeland Security to start its public comment period on body scanners within 60 days or stop using them entirely. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has issued its ruling (PDF), and has refused EPIC's petition. DHS told the court earlier that it expected to have a formal rule proposal on body scanners by the end of February, so the court denied EPIC's motion on the expectation that public comment period would start by late March. TFA and this submission have a pessimistic headline on this ruling, but other sources seem to think the glass is half-full, and that EPIC in effect got what it wanted. Is this a victory or a defeat? Will the rulemaking process start on time, or will a TSA dog eat the proposed rule in late March and force further delay?
Security

Submission + - DHS Gets Public Comment Whether It Wants It Or Not (techdirt.com) 2

OverTheGeicoE writes: The motion to force DHS to start its public comment period is still working its way through the court (DHS: 'we're not stonewalling!', EPIC: 'yes you are!'). While we wait for the decision, Cato Institute's Jim Harper points out another way for the public to comment on body scanners, tsacomment.com. Even before this site existed, of course, the government was receiving public comment anyway in the form of passenger complaint letters, which they buried in their files. Even so, the public can get a chance to view those comments as the result of Freedom of Information Act requests. An FOIA request about pat-downs by governmentattic.org yielded hundreds of pages of letters to the government from 2010, including frequent reports of pat-down induced PTSD and sexual abuse trauma.
Security

Submission + - EPIC Files Motion About Ignored Body Scanner Ruling (epic.org)

OverTheGeicoE writes: The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a motion in court yesterday regarding the court's ignored year-old ruling on EPIC vs. DHS. EPIC is asking the court to require DHS to start taking public comment within 60 days or, as an alternative, forbid DHS from using body scanners in primary airport screening altogether. If the court orders the latter, that would give EPIC what it originally sought in its lawsuit. Meanwhile, for what it's worth, the related petition on whitehouse.gov has a little more than half the signatures it needs to get an official 'response.' The signing period ends on August 9.
Security

Submission + - DHS Still Stonewalling on Body Scanning Ruling One Year Later (arstechnica.com)

OverTheGeicoE writes: About a year ago, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on EPIC v. DHS, a lawsuit that sought to end TSA's use of body scanners. The Court found that DHS violated federal law by not seeking public comment before using body scanners as a primary search method. They ordered TSA to take public comment on its body scanning policy but did not require TSA to suspend its use of the scanners during the comment period. Several months later nothing had been done yet. One year later TSA has still done nothing, and even EPIC, the original plaintiff, seems to have given up. Others have apparently picked up the torch, however. Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute, has posted a piece on Ars Technica about TSA's violation of the court order. He also started a petition on Whitehouse.gov asking TSA to comply with the order. An earlier petition ended with a non-response from TSA Administrator John Pistole. Will the latest petition fare any better, even in an election year?
The Courts

Submission + - DHS Ignores Court Ruling to Take Public Comment on (epic.org)

OverTheGeicoE writes: On Saturday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center announced that they filed papers in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to get the Department of Homeland Security to start its public comment process. In July the court ordered DHS to take public comment on airport body scanning, in accordance with federal law. The court allowed DHS and TSA to continue using scanners during the comment period. According to EPIC's filing the ruling against DHS became final on September 21 after EPIC's motion for a rehearing was denied. Since then, DHS has done nothing to comply with the order. EPIC wants DHS to release details for their public comment period process within 45 days. DHS is no stranger to the kind of notice and comment rulemaking that is being required of them. Earlier public comment on their Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP), which would have required draconian security on aircraft 10% of the size of a Boeing 737, did not go so well. They received 7400 comments 'vehemently opposed' to LASP in 2008 and 2009 and are still reworking the plan in response to the comments received. How will DHS manage the public comment period for body scanners, which directly affects many millions more Americans than LASP does? Would DHS prefer to take their chances in court, including an appeal to the Supreme Court if need be, rather than face the public over their body scanners?

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