Judge says government need not disclose air traveler security images


Bill Mears
CNN
January 13, 2011

Washington (CNN) — A federal judge in Washington has ruled the Department of Homeland Security can keep from public view 2,000 “whole-body” images taken at airport checkpoints.

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The decision is a setback for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which had sued the government for release of material to determine how the technology would impact privacy and civil liberty concerns.

But Judge Ricardo Urbina, in a 15-page opinion issued Wednesday, said the Homeland Security Department has no obligation under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose the images or related training materials.

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The images were created to give officials at the Transportation Security Administration an idea of the effectiveness of its detection technology. Government lawyers had argued release of the material was exempt from Freedom of Information Act since release “would constitute a threat of transportation security” that might highlight vulnerabilities of the body-scanning’s effectiveness.

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