TSA

"Vitruvian Man" by Leonardo da Vinci (modified by Jay Stanley)

A Tour of the TSA’s Testing Facility

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:04am
Last week I was given a tour of the “TSA Systems Integration Facility” (TSIF), the agency’s testing facility located at Reagan National Airport here in Washington, in some outlying buildings that used to house the airport’s post office facility. The tour included the opportunity to talk to some of the specialists who work there. We were shown technologies that are already familiar; there was nothing on some of the more ridiculous screening programs such as SPOT or FAST, nor anything futuristic. But I did pick up some items of possible interest to those curious about the functioning of our airport security technology—including passengers with disabilities or who face special scrutiny, such as Sikhs, who are nearly always forced to undergo extra screening because of the turbans that Sikh men wear. (The tour was arranged by TSA’s office of Civil Rights and Liberties.)
"It Was Mostly the Middle Easterners Who Got the Special Screening"

"It Was Mostly the Middle Easterners Who Got the Special Screening"

By Hugh Handeyside, Staff Attorney, ACLU, National Security Project at 5:16pm

Transportation Security Administration employees subjected "Middle Easterners" to extra screening based solely on national origin, diverted "rude" passengers to retaliatory pat-down searches, and snickered at our "every fold and dimple on full awful…

Hindu Man Describes Mistreatment After False-Positive Hand Swab

Hindu Man Describes Mistreatment After False-Positive Hand Swab

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:40pm

When the TSA in 2010 introduced the swabbing of some passengers’ hands to detect for explosive residue, we got a call from CNN asking if we’d tell them on camera what we thought of it from a privacy standpoint. It seemed to us that particle sniffers…

SPOT Off

SPOT Off

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 3:58pm

Lost in all the news about the NSA program this week was the release of a devastating report by the DHS Inspector General on the TSA’s SPOT program (first reported by the New York Times on Sunday). The new report underscores what a waste of money that program has been. After hiring 2,800 full-time staff and spending an estimated $878 million since FY 2007, the program remains deeply misguided not only in its very concept, but also in how it has been implemented.

SPOT (which stands for Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques) is the program that places “Behavior Detection Officers” (BDOs) near airport security lines, where by intrusively chatting with fliers, they will supposedly be able to detect “something amiss” that might suggest a passenger is planning a terrorist attack.

The program has always been ludicrous. In testimony at a 2011 congressional hearing on SPOT, psychologist Dr. Maria Hartwig summarized the decades of empirical research on the detection of deception, which is basically

The Constitution Applies When the Government Bans Americans From the Skies

The Constitution Applies When the Government Bans Americans From the Skies

By Nusrat Choudhury, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program & Hina Shamsi, Director, ACLU National Security Project at 2:58pm

The government does not have the unchecked authority to place individuals on a secret blacklist without providing them any meaningful...

TSA Once Again Considering Using Commercial Data To Profile Passengers

TSA Once Again Considering Using Commercial Data To Profile Passengers

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:09am

The TSA has issued a “Market Research Announcement” in which the agency expresses a desire to expand its Pre-Check whitelist program by allowing private companies to carry out risk analysis of Americans that would determine whether they…

The TSA’s First 11 Years

The TSA’s First 11 Years

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:21pm

November 25 marked the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Homeland Security Act, which created the sprawling Department of Homeland Security. Included in this new behemoth agency was another agency that had been created a year earlier, the Transportation…

In Court Today: The Constitution Also Lives in Airports

In Court Today: The Constitution Also Lives in Airports

By Mitra Ebadolahi, Border Litigation Staff Attorney, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties at 10:24am

The ACLU is appearing today before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to argue on behalf of our client, Nick George. 

In August 2009, Nick went to the Philadelphia International Airport to catch a flight to California and begin his senior…

Lie Detection, Special Treatment at the Airport, and Recursive Cameras (Friday Links Roundup)

Lie Detection, Special Treatment at the Airport, and Recursive Cameras (Friday Links Roundup)

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:26pm

Salon has a nice piece on how research shows the difficulty of detecting lies—the impossibility, really—and how people consistently overestimate their ability to do so. And, how people consistently misidentify signs of stress (from a variety…

Friday Links Roundup For August 24

Friday Links Roundup For August 24

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:36pm

On July 30, the Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia announced a review of license plate scanning programs by law enforcement in the province. If the United States had an analogous institution embodying /enforcing our privacy values, maybe we’d…

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