Almost exactly a year ago, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Transportation Security Administration had, in its rush to roll out full-body scanners at airports, broken its own rules by not publishing the policy in the Federal Register and allowing the public to comment on it before putting it into action. At the time, the court expected the TSA to “act promptly” and seek public comment. It hasn’t done so, and now a new petition seeks to have the White House require the TSA to do so.
Jim Harper of the Cato Institute started a petition yesterday on WhiteHouse.gov that has already gotten more than 1,800 signatures of the required 25,000 signature goal.
From the petition:
Defying the court, the TSA has not satisfied public concerns about privacy, about costs and delays, security weaknesses, and the potential health effects of these machines. If the government is going to “body-scan” Americans at U.S. airports, President Obama should force the TSA to begin the public process the court ordered.
In an opinion piece for Ars Technica, Harper questions the TSA’s claims that it’s too complex and expensive to go through the rulemaking process for full-body scanners, yet “the TSA has devoted substantial resources to the PreCheck program during this time, rolling it out to additional airports. How can an agency pour resources into its latest, greatest project, yet claim poverty when it comes to complying with the law?”
The petition isn’t a direct attempt to rid airports of the scanners, but to ensure that the TSA is following its own guidelines, especially on a policy that is so controversial and could benefit from public comment.