According to the ACLU of Northern California, the TSA has developed a practice of searching the electronic devices (phones, laptops, and tablets) of certain passengers on domestic flights in the U.S. This may be part of the enhanced screening procedures that the TSA announced last October. As a result, the ACLU is pursuing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the TSA, specifically its headquarters in Northern Virginia and its field office in San Francisco.
ACLU attorney Vasudha Talla expressed concern that the TSA has not provided a reason for why it is searching these electronic devices, or for how it determines which passengers’ devices to search. The ACLU has taken the position that the government agency should not have access to this information without a warrant. The FOIA lawsuit thus demands the release of records concerning not only the policies of the TSA in this area but also the equipment that the agency uses to carry out the searches and the training received by TSA officers in conducting them. The ACLU allegedly sought this information through a FOIA request in December, but this request was denied.
You can read the full text of the filing at Justia to find out more about the ACLU’s allegations and demands.