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Monday, July 20, 2015

NCTE Sues TSA to Compel New Privacy Protections for Travelers

In the latest development in efforts to protect transgender travelers’ privacy, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) joined a legal action with other privacy advocates to compel the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to finalize clear rules regarding airport passenger screening.

The petition for mandamus was filed in U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which in 2011 ruled that the TSA broke federal law by imposing intrusive new screening techniques in the last decade without adopting formal rules or public comment. While NCTE continues to advise and collaborate with TSA on staff training, screening procedures, and antidiscrimination policies, we believe a more fundamental change in airport screening is needed.

“As long as TSA relies on body scanners and prison-style pat-downs as its primary tools, there will be a cost to travelers’ privacy and questions about whether that cost is paying off,” said NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin. “While there will be some cost to all travelers, anyone who is perceived as different or whose body is not typical will bear the brunt of those invasions of privacy. The public deserves clear rules that address the effectiveness and the privacy impact of practices that affect millions of Americans every day.”

NCTE joined thousands of individuals and hundreds of privacy and LGBT advocates in 2013 in filing comments urging the agency to shift away from the current model to one that is more tailored, effective, and privacy-protective. Given the huge number of Americans that interact with the TSA every day, clear rules governing the use of body scanners and the prison-style pat-downs TSA uses in tandem with the machines. NCTE has urged the agency to change its approach and at the very least codify some of the minimal privacy protections it already promises and add some new ones.

NCTE is committed to making travel safe and welcoming for people of all genders. You can learn more about your rights at airport security here.

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