Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Attorneys’ Fees Awarded in Body Scanner Fight

WASHINGTON (CN) - A civil liberties group can recover attorneys' fees after nailing government agencies for their failure to disclose data on the overly explicit full-body airport scanners, a federal judge ruled.

"The court will now roll up its sleeves, go back to grade school, and sort through all the math," Chief U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth wrote in the first of two decisions handed down Tuesday for the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

EPIC had sued over the government's withholding of records relating to the Whole Body Imaging technology used in U.S. airports. The lawsuit yielded an additional 18 pages of records from the Department of Homeland Security and portions of 10 pages from the Transportation Security Administration.

After crunching the numbers, Judge Lamberth awarded $9,373.34 in fees and costs related to the TSA case and $3,321.95 for the DHS case.

Both sums could grow, however, if settlement offers from the government are insufficient, Lamberth noted.

EPIC has challenged "backscatter" body scanners using Advanced Imaging Technology since Rapiscan developed them in 2007.

"Body scanners produce detailed, three-dimensional images of individuals," the group states on its website. "Security experts have described whole body scanners as the equivalent of 'a physically invasive strip-search.'"

Earlier this year, the Transportation Security Administration finally dumped the backscatter scanners after slamming Rapiscan for not improving the technology under a congressionally mandated deadline to produce less explicit images.

The new machines show generic body outlines instead of the old images of travelers stripped naked.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.