Check this out. According to TSA rules, you can film and photograph and record what they are doing. So throw that in their face if they try to trick you into not taking evidence of their...misconduct. Let's just call it what it is. But look dowon below. The laws are vague enough that they can actually be contradicted. You aren't supposed to interfer with a a passenger recording, but if they claim it interfers with their duty, then you may be in trouble. See how they contradict themselves? How they use the vague language to subvert the clear, literal language? That's the Soviet technique as Christopher Story or Anatoli Golitsyn would say. - Drew J
Want To Photograph Your TSA Ordeal? Not So Fast
Andy Greenberghttp://blogs.forbes.com/andygreenberg/2 ... topstories
My wife and I arrived at the airport for our annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage Tuesday evening, and like millions of others, came face-to-face with the TSA’s upgraded security measures. I breezed through; My wife, who apparently looks far more dangerous than I do, was pulled aside for a pat-down.
Her frisker was very polite and the procedure was barely invasive, if a bit more aggressive than in the past. But while she was being systematically searched from head to toe, I pulled out my BlackBerry to take some pictures and record a souvenir of the Great Gropefest of 2010. Within seconds I was being shouted at sternly by another TSA agent, who told me that “either you stop taking pictures, or I take your camera.” When I asked him why I couldn’t take photos of my wife in a public place, he said that it was “against the rules.”
The right to photography at TSA checkpoints matters: I was mostly hoping to show my wife her ridiculous facial expressions as she received “love pats” from a stranger. Others might hope to document real TSA abuses, or point out dangerous vulnerabilities in its security measures.
And it seems that some have had it far worse than I did: Security researcher Robert Graham, of Atlanta-based Errata Security, wrote on the company’s blog Wednesday that he was detained for thirty minutes after taking pictures of the full-body scanners at a checkpoint. After having his possessions taken from him and talking to several agents, one of whom forced him to delete one photograph (seemingly at random) he was let go. He describes one piece of his conversations as follows.
TSA: Don’t you have normal operating procedures at your work?
TSA: How would you like it if somebody came to your work and disrupted your procedures? How would you like it if people took pictures of you at your work?
Me: I don’t work for the government. Government agencies need to be accountable to the public, and therefore suffer disruptions like this.
TSA: Not all parts of the government are accountable to the public, especially the TSA.
Me: Wow. No, ALL parts of the government are accountable to the people, especially the TSA. I’m not sure what type of country you think we live in.
Graham points out that the TSA’s regulations seem to allow passengers to take photos at checkpoints. He cites this portion of the TSA handbook.
2.7. PHOTOGRAPHING, VIDEOTAPING, AND FILMING SCREENING LOCATIONS
A. TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers, or press from photographing, videotaping, or filming screening locations unless the activity interferes with a TSO’s ability to perform his or her duties or prevents the orderly flow of individuals through the screening location. Requests by commercial entities to photograph an airport screening location must be forwarded to TSA’s Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs. Photographing EDS or ETD monitor screens or emitted images is not permitted.
B. TSA must not confiscate or destroy the photographic equipment or film of any person photographing the screening location.
The handbook goes on to state that passengers are prohibited from taking pictures of x-ray screens–a reasonable measure, considering that those photographs could violate the privacy of a fellow passengers. You can read the whole handbook here.http://a.abcnews.go.com/images/Blotter/ ... 091208.pdf
Clear enough, right? Not quite. When I contacted the TSA, public affairs officer Greg Soule pointed to the “unless the activity interferes with a TSO’s ability to perform his or her duties” clause. That can be interpreted at the discretion of the checkpoint’s agents, apparently, to mean that anyone who takes pictures is interfering with their duties.
“Our officers are trained to use their discretion and can ask passengers not to take photos or videos if they are interfering with the screening process,” Soule writes. “We ask passengers to cooperate with the security officer’s direction to make the process safe and efficient not only for themselves but for the passengers around them.”
He also pointed me to a post
on the TSA’s blog that deals with checkpoint photographs. The TSA’s “Blogger Bob” basically reiterates the handbook: photos are allowed, unless they’re of screens or violate local laws. Blogger Bob adds: “I’ve taken photographs in checkpoints, terminals, and on planes and I have never had an issue. I know some of you have and hopefully this information helps you a little.”
No mention of the TSA agents’ discretion to throw out this photographic privilege at will.
If the TSA believes there’s a good reason to prevent photography at checkpoints–an important check on agents’ power, and one that’s increasingly relevant as procedures cut closer to the line of what passengers will tolerate–perhaps it should create rules to that effect. Giving discretion to TSA agents themselves is a perfect way to make sure that the most abusive agents have the power to go about their groping without pesky repercussions.
For anyone who does manage to take photos of their airport security experience that you’d like to share, send them to me at agreenberg (at) forbes.com, and I’ll collect the most interesting ones for a future blog post.