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On the heels of the Congressional recent hearings on TSA’s arbitrary classification of otherwise public information regarding their policies and procedures as Sensitive Security Information” (SSI), two rulings have further reined in TSA’s abuses of authority.
The first and most direct ruling involves the secretive no fly list that has ensnared many trustworthy passengers ranging from public figures such as Senator Ted Kennedy to eight year old children . The court declared that since there was no effective means available to travelers on the list that the policy denied them their due process rights.
Judge: U.S. violated rights of those on ‘no-fly’ list – By Bill Mears, CNN – June 25, 2014
The U.S. government’s “no fly” list violates constitutional protections by depriving travelers of a meaningful way to have their names removed, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Anna Brown of Portland, Oregon, ordered the Justice Department to redraft procedures “with the requisite due process” and without jeopardizing national security.
Thirteen plaintiffs, mostly Muslim-Americans, challenged their inclusion on the list. They said they were denied boarding on flights without explanation and were not allowed to present evidence to show they were no threat to public safety.
“A traveler who has not been given any indication of the information that may be in the record does not have any way to correct that information,” Brown wrote in her 65-page opinion and order.
In another decision which could have implications for TSA and Customs, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that cell phones, and presumably by extension tablets and laptops, cannot be searched by police without a warrant.
In the past TSA and Customs have claimed to have the right to seize and inspect the contents of personal electronic devices. While there have been on a few incidents reported where TSA or Customs officials have seized or devices, demanded passwords or confiscated the devices of travelers several have been reported and likely many others went unreported. Whether or not this decision will impact other non-law enforcement activities may require additional legal action.
Supreme Court Says Phones Can’t Be Searched Without a Warrant – By ADAM LIPTAK – JUNE 25, 2014
WASHINGTON — In a sweeping victory for privacy rights in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, was keenly alert to the central role that cellphones play in contemporary life. They are, he said, “such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.”
But he added that old principles required that their contents be protected from routine searches. One of the driving forces behind the American Revolution, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, was revulsion against “general warrants,” which “allowed British officers to rummage through homes in an unrestrained search for evidence of criminal activity.”
“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand,” the chief justice also wrote, “does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the founders fought.”