Has the TSA gone too far with frisks?

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08/26/2010

Yet again the TSA is in trouble with privacy groups. I just read this article from the Boston Herald that the ACLU is upset about an "enhanced" patdown search technique being used by the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA launched a more aggressive "palms-first, slide-down body search technique." This procedure replaces the agency's previous technique which used a back-of-the-hand patdown.

Previously, TSA screeners used patdown motions of their hands to search passengers over their clothes, switching to the backs of their hands over certain ’sensitive’ body areas, such as the torso.

But now the searches will be done using all front-of-the-hand sliding motions over greater areas of passengers’ bodies, including sensitive areas.

Boston-Logan and Las Vegas-McCarran are the two airports testing this controversial technique.

A spokesperson for the TSA said that searches are conducted by same-gender TSA officers and passengers can request private screenings at any time. And the body searches are only done if passengers opt not to pass through full-body scanners.

Personally, I think a hand, is a hand, is a hand, regardless of whether it's palm up or palm down, but I can see how others might feel differently.

In some positive, less controversial news, the TSA just announced it has reached yet another major milestone and now 100 percent of passengers flying domestically and internationally on U.S. airlines are now being checked against government watch lists through the TSA's Secure Flight program.

Under Secure Flight, TSA prescreens passenger name, date of birth and gender against government watchlists for domestic and international flights. In addition to facilitating secure travel for all passengers, the program helps prevent the misidentification of passengers who have names similar to individuals on government watchlists.

See, it's just a matter of mixing the good with the bad.

Comments

On December 1, 2010, U.S. Travel called on the TSA to create a new trusted traveler program. In such a program, travelers who voluntarily share biometric and biographical information, pass robust background checks to confirm their "low-risk" nature and are verified by TSA at the time of travel, would be allowed to pass through an alternative security process. Such a program would enable the shift of security resources from a high pool of "low-risk" travelers to allow a more sustained focus on a smaller pool of travelers who are not pre-screened to determine their level of risk.