02 February 2011

TSA in the news

John Pistole has put the kibosh on privatization (h/t Jonathan Adler) of airport screening. I suppose this was inevitable. The best way for the government to maintain it's tight-fisted control of the traveling public and, by extension, the citizens is to make sure the operation is entirely government run from top to bottom.

I'm all for privatization of screening so long as the private sector is solely in charge of it and the TSA/FAA/etc. is out of the picture. I thought I had written about privatization under TSA direction before, but I must be remembering a message sent to a staffer in my congressman's office. The short version is that privatization under TSA direction is possibly the worst possible outcome. In this situation, airline travelers would have their privacy violated by a private entity. Even though this would be at the government's direction, I believe the courts would not look favorably on a 4th amendment infringement claim because the government, itself, is not conducting the search. With the government performing the screening, a 4th amendment claim is still a viable option. Though, making that claim would be an uphill battle.


The TSA is "upgrading" its body scanners:
The Transportation Security Administration's new software made its debut on Tuesday at Las Vegas airport, and produces a grey 'cookie cutter' outline of the passenger, rather than the embarrassingly anatomical images that gave the devices the nickname 'porno scanners'.

Suspicious items detected by the scanner are highlighted on the operator's screen as little red boxes. Hands-on traditionalists will be pleased to note that passengers who trigger the alerts will still be subject to the very rigorous frisking that caused most of the complaints in the first place.


Kate Hanni, founder of the California-based group FlyersRights, called the new software "a great step forward."

"We're grateful to the TSA for addressing these issues that were of concern to so many people," Hanni said. "But privacy was our secondary issue. Our primary concern about the body scanners is that they are ineffective. We're also concerned about the possibility of surges in radiation."
I got the chance to speak with Kate a number of times and was interviewed with her during my TSA run-in. She's doing good work continuing to draw attention to the TSA, but I have to disagree with her on this. The TSA's "change" does nothing to address privacy. The government is still conducting suspicion-less, warrant-less searches of people at the airport, and when the result isn't to its liking, passengers will still be subjected to a groping. If anything, this is a "great step" backward because the change will likely mollify the masses. With their naked pictures no longer being seen by someone, they'll likely forget all about the fact that they're still giving up their privacy rights (supposedly) protected by the 4th amendment.


  1. listen to airport blues...
    it plays when you open
    thought you may like it!

  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP8yGAr0Nwk
    another link to airport blues...don't touch my junk...


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