One Take on TSA
Like a lot of people, I’ve been reading, hearing, and talking about the new TSA procedures this week. I’m not a fan of the choice between overly familiar imaging and overly familiar pat down. I think it’s likely to go to court in order to work out whether it might violate the 4th amendment. I’m not entirely convinced by arguments that the small amounts of radiation from one type of scanner are very harmful to human health, but I think people should have a choice about being deliberately irradiated (however small the dose). There’s no good option here that doesn’t impinge upon the body and privacy in some problematic ways.
As a flyer, I haven’t decided what I will choose. As an information professional, I’d like to see people presented with appropriate level and language materials explaining the procedures and their rights as they enter the airport, including potential harms of either choice. Not just on the TSA website, not just in English.
I just came across a blog post (sorry, I’ve lost the referring trail) that talks not just about the invasiveness of the options, but the timing of the focused attention on TSA procedures. The author reminds us that women have been complaining about groping from TSA screeners for a decade, and that the experience of “private citizens being arbitrarily singled out for intrusive searches and rough treatment by authority figures” is one that happens to minority and disenfranchised people routinely. So why so much outrage now? The new enhanced pat downs just started for everybody on Nov 1, so the obvious answer is that now inappropriate TSA touching affects everybody who flies, not just those who might have been singled out in the past. The writer, Sheila Addison, puts a finer point on it:
“Suddenly an able-bodied cisgender white man is the one who was complaining.”
It’s a pretty compelling rant, and I couldn’t find any way to excerpt it further without giving you both too much and not enough here, so just go read it. The author also has a slightly more polished revised version up at California NOW’s place.