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TSA New Policy

The ACLU is keeping an eye on the TSA as new security measures are being tested around the country



Travelers can expect changes at the airport this summer as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) enhances security measures to combat threats.

“The United States and the global aviation community face an adaptive and agile enemy. Terrorist groups continue to target passenger aircraft, and we have seen a “spider web” of threats to commercial aviation as terrorist pursue new attack methods,” The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement on it’s website Wednesday.

The new measures will include enhanced passenger screening, added screening for electronics and increased security protocols, among others, and will be seen on domestic and international flights heading to the U.S.

And the testing for these measures has already begun. Earlier this month, TSA implemented computed tomography three-dimensional (CT 3D) scanners for carry-on bags in airports in Phoenix and Boston, The New York Times reported.

The new 3D scanners will help TSA see a clear picture of a bag’s contents, be able to detect explosives immediately and will allow traveler’s to keep liquids and laptops in their bags when going through security.

Also as part of these tests, travelers have also been asked to remove electronics larger than a cell phone, like a kindle or an iPad, in some airports around the country, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas among others, the Wall Street Journal reported.

But it is one policy that TSA tested that has civil rights organizations, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), speaking out. In May, agents at Kansas City and Sacramento airports had asked travelers to remove books from their carry-ons and place them in separate bins.

"Our society has long created very special privacy protections for books and reading material and writings. Those are things that get to your interests. What your political view, what your religious views are, what you're thinking about, what you're writing about, what problems you may have," Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at ACLU, said.

An example of this protection, Stanley said, is the famous Monica Lewinksy case. Kramerbooks had been subpoenaed by lawyer Kenneth Starr to give over the list of books Lewinsky had purchased, but the bookstore fought it claiming First Amendment protection and was successful.

In the end, Starr was still able to get the list of books, but through Lewinksy’s lawyers.

The measure was short-lived, but Stanley and ACLU sounded the alarm to warn TSA of the potential violation of privacy a policy like that could entail. Since, TSA has been adamant that they are no longer testing the measure.

“TSA continuously tests security screening procedures to stay ahead of our adversaries. Earlier this year, TSA tested procedures that called for books being separated from other items during x-ray screening,” Michelle Negron, assistant press secretary for TSA, said. “This test protocol was designed so operators could have a clearer view of carry-on baggage at checkpoints. Like many tests TSA performs at checkpoints around the country, we collected valuable data but, at this time, are no longer testing or instituting these procedures.”

And though some travelers thought a new security measure like that would be over the top, others liked the idea of having more security.

“I would not object to that,” Ron Macbeth, traveling from Washington D.C. to Georgia, said.

As for the other policies, John Kelly, the Department of Homeland Security secretary, told John Wallace on Fox News that travelers will most likely see them implemented in airports around the country.

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