March 6, 2011

“Don’t Touch My Junk”

Filed under: TSA — publicandprivatespace @ 2:23 pm

By: Malynda Messer

Ever since the tragic events of 9/11 security at airlines have been continually revamped through new technologies and procedures.  With what many government officials say is “for the best interest of the country”, machines such as biometric body scanners, trace portals, and more invasive pat downs have been introduced into thousands of airports across the country. However, what government officials have chosen to ignore about these machines is the fact that these new security procedures come with a heavy price to passengers.  The public is beginning to speak out more about the clear violations of privacy that these machines pose.

Because these machines are so new a lot of people are still finding out exactly what purpose they serve and how they work. Trace portals are the most recent machines to be introduced. This machine gives off blasts of air that will dislodge particles from someone’s skin or clothes, sucking them into a filter to be instantly analyzed to determine if that person has been in the presence of explosives or narcotics. Biometric body scanners have also just recently been integrated and have the ability to take an x-ray scan that can see through passengers clothing. From just the descriptions, it is easy to see how these machines can become a headache to any passenger.

Quite possibly the biggest problem these machines pose is the direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. The main concern that airports and passengers are facing today is what should be considered an “unreasonable search.” Trace portals, although minimally invasive to passengers, commonly produce a false positive which leads to many other physically intrusive procedures such as pat-downs and biometric scanners. False positives can come from heart medicines that are chemically similar to explosives, triggering the alarm. What makes this seem even more outrageous is that the false alarms are typically triggered by older citizens who most commonly have heart medicines. Seems a little outlandish that senior citizens would be making an attempt to carry explosives onto a plane. These false alarms lead to unnecessary searches of innocent people that only results in a waste of time, an upset passenger, and an unreasonable search which invades passengers’ privacy.

Trace portals can also identify chemical signatures recognized in illegal drugs. Use of the trace portal in this situation would constitute an illegal search because airport searches are authorized only to identify materials that are a threat to the safety of the airplane. Illegal drugs do not threaten airplane security so passenger’s rights are again compromised by this machine. This machine seems only to be useful for catching all the wrong types of people.  The main concern should be terrorists not senior citizens and drug dealers.

In the case of biometric body scanners the x-rays taken are certainly considered searches, and most people have an expectation of privacy for what is under their clothes and do not appreciate having to submit to such a search. This scan is humiliating and many passengers have fallen victim to exploitation because of the detail of the scans. Passengers should also not be required to display highly personal details of their bodies during this scan, such as evidence of penile implants, catheter tubes, and the size of their breasts or genitals as a pre-requisite to boarding a plane!

These security machines are diminishing our privacy rights, and more people should band together to help stop the government from taking our personal freedoms. Take for example John Tyner who has become a symbol of rebellion against the new TSA machines. While in the airport he spoke up to an airline official and boldly told him, “Don’t touch my junk or I will have you arrested.” This single line helped spark a movement that we all should jump on board with. There must be another way of protecting the skies other than violating passenger’s constitutional rights. If one man can get this message out there, it would be amazing to see what could be done if everyone spoke up.

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