US government announces changes to airport screening rules

Bhargav Katikaneni at 10:38 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] on Friday announced changes to airport security rules [press release], moving toward a screening system based on intelligence information. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano [official profile] said the new system will apply to all air carriers with international flights to the US, and is more effecting at stopping terrorist threats:

These new measures utilize real-time, threat-based intelligence along with multiple, random layers of security, both seen and unseen, to more effectively mitigate evolving terrorist threats. The terrorist threat to global aviation is a shared challenge and ensuring aviation security is a shared responsibility. I commend our many partners around the world who have taken steps to increase their own security measures through deployment of new technology, enhanced information sharing and stronger standards to keep air travel safe.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] praised the new policy [press release] as a move away from racial profiling, calling it a step in the right direction.

US President Barack Obama has called for stricter airport security [JURIST report] in response to a failed bombing attempt [JURIST report] by Nigerian citizen Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [JURIST news archive] in December. Civil rights groups opposed [JURIST report] temporary screening measures that automatically called for extra scrutiny of passengers traveling from certain Islamic countries, calling them unconstitutional. In January, European officials told the US that they would not install body scanning technology [JURIST report] at airports until the countries have studied the effectiveness, safety, and threat to privacy of such devices. However, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that the UK would improve security [JURIST report] using several measures, including body scanners