After two and a half years of stalling, delaying and ignoring court orders, the TSA this week finally completed its public notice and comment rulemaking period regarding the mass rollout of body scanners in airports. The results don’t look good for the agency.
Comments ranged from covering the health issues surrounding the machines, to the invasion of privacy, and the fact that the machines can be fooled and fairly easily bypassed by anyone who has the know how.
The TSA says it has been able to process 4,321 comments thus far, and there are sure to be more to work through.
Jonathon Corbett, the engineer who filmed himself passing through the scanners with metal objects in his pockets, reports that from his analysis of the most recent 100 comments on the TSA’s website, 97 percent were opposed, with just 2 percent in favour and 1 percent not appearing to take a position on either side.
“At least 20 people mentioned me by name (all in opposition, of course), a handful of others mentioned my blog or my video, and at least one likely TSA Out of Our Pants reader took my suggestion and simply told the TSA that they suck.” Corbett writes.
According to the law, the TSA must now review and respond to all the comments, before deciding whether to adopt the “proposal” to adopt AIT technology for primary screening. Of course, the agency has been using the technology for years now, so this is merely a formal process that it has been forced to complete, after repeated refusal to do so, in violation of federal law.
As we reported last September, the federal court that previously ruled the TSA’s deployment of body scanners was illegal and demanded the agency comply “promptly” with the order to hold public hearings, backed off the issue, effectively allowing the TSA to continue to ignore its responsibility on the matter.
The court effectively caved to the agency’s appeals, allowing the TSA until the end of March 2013 to begin the public engagement process, meaning that a full 23 months have now passed since the original court order, and around four years have elapsed since the agency officially rubber stamped the deployment of the body scanners.
As Corbett notes, the USPS once adopted a rule after receiving 10 comments in favor and 8,097 in opposition, so it we can hardly expect the TSA to suddenly scrap the scanners in light of the negative comments it has received.
“The good news is that they have to consider every comment and respond to every reason that people have given them to get rid of the nude body scanners, or else face lawsuits (for example, by me).” Corbett notes.
The response does illustrate, however, that the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to the use of scanners, despite claims by the TSA that the majority of people are not concerned about the use of the technology – once again exposing the agency’s lies.
Corbett’s entire submission to the TSA (PDF) makes for very interesting reading. It is essentially a studiously referenced essay that presents the voluminous amount of evidence for why body scanners should not be used on members of the public.