TSA may start inspecting airline passengers' reading materials

TSA employees will flip through the materials and look for anything hidden in the pages.
By Mark Schwartz | Jun 27, 2017
The Transportation Safety Administration is testing new security procedures that require each airline passenger to remove books and other reading materials from his or her carry-on bags and place them in a bin for inspection while passing through the security line. TSA employees will flip through the materials and look for anything hidden in the pages.

The American Civil Liberties Union cautioned that the procedure raises privacy concerns, particularly for Muslim and Arabic-speaking passengers who could be singled out for harassment and discriminatory treatment if their reading material happens to include the Koran. It advised the TSA to let customers shield book or notebook covers with paper if desired, and train agents to be respectful and minimally intrusive when they inspect each passenger's materials.

"A person who is reading a book entitled "Overcoming Sexual Abuse" or "Overcoming Sexual Dysfunction" is not likely to want to plop that volume down on the conveyor belt for all to see," the ACLU wrote. "And of course someone reading Arab or Muslim literature in today's environment has all too much cause to worry about discrimination."

DHS Secretary John Kelly said that X-ray screens are not a sufficient inspection means, because passengers are more densely packing their bags nowadays to avoid extra baggage fees and creating too much clutter for the X-ray screens to clearly show any hidden contraband. He told Fox News that tests of the new policy are already under way in several small airports, and that "we might, and likely will" apply the policy nationwide.

"What we're doing now is working out the tactics, techniques, and procedures, if you will, in a few airports, to find out exactly how to do that with the least amount of inconvenience to the traveler," he told Fox News.

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