For many, going through security at the airport adds a layer of stress to travel plans. For some, it’s compounded when they’re pulled aside, and their electronic devices are inspected. There’s growing concern whether data from devices belonging to domestic airline passengers is being scanned or reviewed during these inspections.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the American Civil Liberties Union chapter in San Francisco responded to media reports and complaints about these searches by submitting two Freedom of Information Act requests (December 2017, January 2018) to the TSA for information on their policies and procedures around these searches. When the two requests resulted in “no records,” the ACLU filed a lawsuit.
“The information sought in ACLU-NC’s FOIA request would reveal for the first time information concerning TSA’s searches of domestic passengers’ electronic devices, and allow members of the public a meaningful opportunity to vet the government’s broad claim of authority to conduct such searches.”
The TSA has stated that it neither searches electronic devices for electronic content nor extracts that data. But the ACLU is pressing on.
Staff attorney for the ACLU-NC Vasudha Talla added in the LA Times report, “The public deserves all available information about what is and isn’t considered a permissible search by TSA.”