Court To TSA: It's About Time You Held Those Hearings On Nude Body Scanners, Don't Ya Think?

Just last month we reported on a petition from Jim Cato of the Harper Institute, urging the White House to put the heat on the Transportation Security Administration for its delay in holding hearings on nude body scanners, and now it seems the courts have listened.

Over a year ago, the TSA was told by a circuit court that if it wanted to keep using its nude body scanners in U.S. airports, it would need to “act promptly” and have a 90-day notice and comment period for the public to air opinions on the devices. It never did that, and now the court is fed up and ordered the TSA on Wednesday to get around to it already and have a response by Aug. 30.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has been going after the TSA to comply with the court’s decision requiring it to hold public hearings about the scanners, to address concerns over the images generated and the safety of the machines. This was EPIC’s third request to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C. to enforce the order, and it appears the third time really is the charm.

Wired.com says the public comments and the TSA’s answers to them are reviewable by a court, which could end up challenging the 2009 decision by the agency to use the scanners. Those who don’t like the scanners are wary of radiation, privacy threats and Americans’ health.

The TSA has denied any ill-effects to the scanners in the past, and in some airports, has installed software to make the nude images less, well, naked looking.

But just last week, a TSA spokeswoman told Wired that the hearings and the agency’s response to those won’t happen probably until next year. The agency had previously argued that a public comment period would take too long and hamper the government as it tried to safeguard the country from “ever-evolving threats.”

We look forward to seeing if the TSA listens to the court this time around. Prepare those public comments, everybody!

Court Demands TSA Explain Why It Is Defying Nude Body Scanner Order [Wired.com]