Group of Alaskans sues TSA over screening system

A group of four Alaskans on Monday filed suit at the U.S. District Court in Anchorage against the Transportation Security Administration for violating privacy rights with its passenger-screening system.

"We are asking the courts to ensure some sort of judicial review on infringements upon the civil liberties of citizens," said James Harrison, the California-based attorney for the plaintiffs. "If the laws are promulgated in a secret fashion, then it forecloses judicial review and an entire branch of government."

The government in March said it would require airlines to provide passenger data so TSA can test the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-screening System (CAPPS II). Revelations from several airlines that they secretly provided the government with passenger information after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks prompted at least one lawsuit from passengers angry over the distribution of their personal information.

Harrison said he wants clear guidelines on when the government can collect certain information about his clients: John Davis and Charles Beckley, superintendent and coordinator of technology, respectively, for the Bering Strait School District; Sally Huntley, owner of Frontier Travel; and William Beck, owner of Airlines Online.

Due to the large area covered by their school district, Davis and Beckley must frequently fly to their destinations and would be "isolated if they really had problems with flying," Harrison said. On the group's Web site, Davis said CAPPS II is "an excessive incursion on individual privacy" and Beckley said he was not willing to "blindly accept" that CAPPS II would make air travel any safer.

Harrison wrote a letter to TSA Acting Director David Stone on May 3 requesting that he make available previous and future requests for personal information under CAPPS II, but did not hear from the agency.

Harrison's clients "don't believe that this system will make things safer," he said. "I am deeply troubled by secret laws ... that are not reviewable by the court."

TSA did not return calls for comment.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.