The D.C. Circuit is cutting the TSA some slack.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) submitted a Petition for Mandamus, asking the D.C. Circuit to require the Transportation Security Administration to issue a proposed rule on the airport body scanners within 60 days.
The petition was denied by the D.C. Circuit earlier this week. But the TSA isn't off the hook just yet.
The scanners in question are those invasive, behemoth boxes at security checkpoints at many national airports. If you've ever walked through one of these scanners, you'd know that it pretty much strips you down naked for the TSA to see.
So, it's natural that this would raise invasion of privacy and Fourth Amendment issues.
The TSA, as we mentioned in our earlier post, never solicited public comments before the naked body scanner rules were adopted.
In the summer of 2011, the D.C. Circuit asked the TSA to act promptly and solicit comments. A year passed and nothing happened.
No public hearings. No comments. No regulations. All in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.
The recent denial of EPIC's petition isn't a winner-takes-all scenario. The court pointed out that the TSA has until March 2013 to issue a proposed rule.
But will this actually mean anything? Who knows. We've been down this road before and we still have no concrete regulations on the nude scanners.
But with a tangible date set for next year, maybe this time the D.C. Circuit will crack down a little harder on the TSA, if the agency lags on the rulemaking procedures again.
Nevertheless, if you plan to travel this fall, your choices are pretty limited when it comes to airport security -- either have the TSA undress you with their virtual eyes, or have someone pat you down with the back of their hand.