A broad coalition of 30 privacy, civil rights and consumer organizations led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center sent a petition to the Department of Homeland Security today demanding that the agency's Transportation Security Administration suspend its airport body scanning program.
Use of the machines "effectively subjects all air travelers to unconstitutionally intrusive searches that are disproportionate and for which the TSA lacks any suspicion of wrongdoing," the groups wrote in the petition. "There are less intrusive and less costly techniques available to address the risk of concealed explosives on aircrafts."
According to the petition, the machines can capture, store, and transfer detailed, three-dimensional images of individuals’ naked bodies - an assertion that TSA has disputed.
The privacy groups charge that deploying the scanners for airport use violates the Constitution, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Privacy Act of 1974, and the Administrative Procedures Act.
The petition cites complaints from passengers such as, “I was picked to go through the new body scanner machine … When I looked around, I noticed that there were only women who were ‘told’ to go through this machine, there were no men.”
The TSA recently announced plans to send 1,000 new body scanners to airports around the country.
The scanners are currently in use at airports in Albuquerque, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham, Richmond, Washington National, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Tampa, and Tulsa.