Dept. of Transportation sued to disclose security plans

ITworld.com |  Business

A Washington, D.C.-based privacy group filed suit against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Thursday for failing to respond to requests it made for information on the department's planned post-Sept. 11 security systems, saying that it feared that the DOT measures could impinge on the privacy of U.S. citizens.

The not-for-profit Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said Thursday that it sued the DOT and U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta to obtain records on the information after reading reports in the press that the department had proposed biometric identification cards for transportation workers, airline passenger screening and profiling systems, and the establishment of a computer network linking all U.S. reservation systems to private and government databases.

"(The press reports) reveal limited details from unofficial sources in the department and we think it's time for the department to make official disclosures," EPIC's lawyer in the case, David Sobel, said Friday.

"I think any time you are talking about a unified ID system with biometric information and screening and profiling, there are obvious privacy issues," he added.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, calls for expedited processing of the information under the Freedom of Information Act.

A representative for the DOT said Friday that it was against the department's policy to comment on pending litigation, but indicated that he was unaware of the lawsuit.

The DOT has 30 days to respond to the suit and the case will move on from there, Sobel said.

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