Last year when TSA launched stricter screening procedures for domestic passengers’ electronic devices, they didn’t reveal the whys hows behind it. This didn’t sit well with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, which has now filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against TSA in an effort to get more information about the procedures and motives behind the move.
ACLU staff attorney Vasudha Talla says:
“TSA is searching the electronic devices of domestic passengers, but without offering any reason for the search. We don’t know why the government is singling out some passengers, and we don’t know what exactly TSA is searching on the devices. Our phones and laptops contain very personal information, and the federal government should not be digging through our digital data without a warrant.”
ACLU is now seeking answers from the TSA, wanting their records detailing its policies, procedures or protocols when it comes to searching domestic passengers’ devices. The organization also wants to see the equipment the TSA uses to investigate into people’s phones and laptops when they don’t think manual searches are enough. Finally, they want to know wha kind of training the TSA officers are getting who conduct electronic searches.
While ACLU is seeking out this information, the question now remains whether the TSA will comply with the request. This is the second FOIA the organization has filed following its first attempt in December 2017. ACLU says the “TSA has subsequently improperly withheld the requested records” that time, so now they’re putting more information on TSA to be more transparent.
TSA’s procedures for domestic screening remains a secret, but they did reveal that “border officials can search [international passengers’] devices with or without probable cause.” ACLU is also going after these practices for international flights.