To Keep The Skies Safe, The TSA Wants To Know What You're Reading

from the how-could-this-go-wrong dept

The TSA continues to expand the intrusiveness of its searches, supposedly justified by an increased threat to air travel that doesn't seem to have materialized. In fact, the TSA has admitted attacks on airplanes are the threat voted Least Likely To Occur. One only needs to look at the recent string of terrorist attacks to see there are far more efficient ways to attack the populace than purchasing a ticket and making your way past security.

Nevertheless, the charade continues, only with more of it as often as possible. Fliers are now being asked to stow explosive batteries in the cargo hold and liquid limits are still being enforced to ensure dangerous things like medication and breast milk aren't brought on board.

Now, the TSA wants to know what you're reading. As airlines have increased rates for checked bags, travellers are packing more and more into their carry-on luggage. This is causing problems for the TSA's X-ray machines, which are having more trouble discerning what's actually being carried in passengers' bags. The densest materials are the hardest to "see" through, so TSA agents will now be demanding access to reading materials travelers are carrying.

The TSA is testing new requirements that passengers remove books and other paper goods from their carry-on baggage when going through airline security. Given the sensitivity of our reading choices, this raises privacy concerns.

Tests of the policy are underway in some small airports around the country, and DHS Secretary John Kelly recently said 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. The policy may also apply to food items.

There's no good reason for the government to know what you're reading. In fact, as the ACLU points out in this post, there are protections in place to prevent the government from obtaining that information.

[T]here is a long history of special legal protection for the privacy of one’s reading habits in the United States, not only through numerous Supreme Court and other court decisions, but also through state laws that criminalize the violation of public library reading privacy or require a warrant to obtain book sales, rental, or lending records.

But, as government lawyers have reminded citizens, travelling via air is a privilege, not a right, even in a country where someone's destination might be 3,000 miles away. (Travelling by car has its own set of Fourth Amendment problems. It's also far more dangerous. Deciding to drive not only takes longer, but subjects people to a whole new set of issues.) The decision to fly means allowing the government to do whatever it wants to make flying secure, even if nearly everything it does has zero effect on curbing terrorist activity.

There are plenty of reasons people might not want to share their reading habits with other fliers in eyesight of the examination are, much less a bunch of government employees with the power to detain people for almost any reason. It's not just about hiding trashy novels from TSA agents. It's about any number of reading materials that could subject to additional scrutiny by the government.

For example, in 2010 the ACLU sued on behalf of a man who was abusively interrogated, handcuffed, and detained for nearly five hours because he was carrying a set of Arabic-language flash cards and a book critical of U.S. foreign policy. We also know that the DHS database known as the “Automated Targeting System,” which tracks information on international travelers, has included notations in travelers’ permanent files about controversial books in their possession.

Since the searches aren't limited to books, but any set of papers flagged by scanners, lawyers carrying privileged legal documents might find themselves having to hand these over to TSA agents to page through. Reading anything about national security and/or terrorism is likely to result in enhanced screening efforts and (possibly) missed flights. The government has no right to know what you're reading, but it has the right to make you hand over everything you're hoping to carry onboard to do with it what it pleases. This includes adding travellers to secret lists that are almost impossible to be removed from or simply asking a bunch of irrelevant questions based on the incredibly faulty premise that terrorists would read certain materials when engaged in acts of terrorism.

The ACLU suggests two things the TSA can do to minimize privacy violations. One would be strict policies and new training procedures to better ensure travelers' privacy and to prevent the additional search from becoming a handy way to increase detentions and add travelers to secret lists.

The second thing would be more along the privacy lines voluntarily adopted by companies selling and shipping sensitive goods: the plain brown packaging program. Travellers should be allowed to use plain book covers to obscure titles and other sensitive information while still allowing agents to verify the books are just books and not, say, sheets of explosives or hollowed-out weapons containers. The TSA should only be interested in ensuring a book is a book. It should have zero interest in the title or content of travellers' reading materials.

X-ray machines are supposed to minimize intrusiveness by allowing travellers to keep their bags closed. The TSA is undoing this small privacy protection step-by-step, with books and other papers following electronic devices onto X-ray belts and into the hands of TSA agents. If the TSA is honest about its reasons for examining books separately, the lack of exterior identifying information shouldn't pose a problem. If it does, the TSA (or the agent performing the search) has ulterior motives and should be prevented from stripping away yet another layer of personal privacy at security checkpoints.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:35am

    *packing/downloading "Catcher in the Rye", "Anarchist Cookbook"*

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    • icon
      Krolis (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:34am

      Re:

      Don't forget "The Turner Diaries"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:18am

        Re: Re:

        Amateurs!

        Fill your carry-ons with weird adult novels, like wingfic or dinosaur romance. Make you're prepared to recommend them at great length and detail.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:19pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Better yet, print out long fan-fictions and bind them into books. Spite the TSA by having them to read parts of at least 10 of these.

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    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:59pm

      Re:

      I have a file on my computer that would let me print the bill of rights on a t-shirt (or anything else) in Arabic. I'm suddenly tempted to wander around the public areas of an airport wearing such a shirt.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:36am

    Lots of ebook readers run Android so theoretically they should support encryption. It's sad it's come to this though.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:42am

      Re: democracy is sad

      vv] -- " It's sad it's come to this though. "


      But "it" was delivered by the democratic-process that everyone strongly praises.

      All Presidents, Congress-persons, Supreme Court Justices, and media endorse TSA general search authority. Do you have some objection to democracy?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:52am

        Re: Re: democracy is sad

        Do you have some objection to democracy?

        The beauty of democracy is that you can object to it's results without rejecting their source. That's actually the entire basis of democracy, that each member has separate opinions about everything but only the more popular opinions are implemented.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:58am

          Re: democracy is sad

          ".....the entire basis of democracy"


          No, the entire basis of democracy is majority-rule -- that a numerical group majority inherently has the ethical right to forcibly impose its will on the group's minorites.

          51 people force the other 49 to obey them.
          (or in the U.S. plurality system -- 5 to 33 people force the remaining majority of people to obey)

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:21am

            Re: Re: democracy is sad

            That's actually the entire basis of democracy, that each member has separate opinions about everything but only the more popular opinions are implemented.

            the entire basis of democracy is majority-rule

            Thank you for rewriting my sentence in short form. As Pascal would say, [I didn't have time to make it shorter].

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:21am

            Re: Re: democracy is sad

            Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what is for lunch.

            Democracies never last because they will only commit suicide.

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          • icon
            Roger Strong (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:28am

            Re: Re: democracy is sad

            Of course that's not actually true with democratic governments.

            The US and every other democracy have things to prevent "The Tyranny of the Majority." A Constitution. A Bill or Charter of Rights. A very large body of established law. All of which put strict limits on the ability of the majority to dictate to minorities and individuals.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:14am

              Re: democracy is sad

              ""....things to prevent "The Tyranny of the Majority.""


              Wrong!

              4th Amendment expressly PROHIBITS the general, warrantless searches conducted by TSA -- but it has no effect at all.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:06am

                Re: Re: democracy is sad

                "4th Amendment expressly PROHIBITS the general, warrantless searches conducted by TSA -- but it has no effect at all."

                Because people are okay with destroying protections when it serves their political purposes. They just never realize that it always comes back to bite them on the ass.

                For example, the Religious right's assault on the 1st with free speech regarding the 7 words you cannot say on public TV are just as wrong as the Religious left's assault on the 2nd with gun control.

                I have only met 1 other citizen of the US face to face that fully supports the Constitution in my lifetime. Most other will happily sacrifice any number of the other protections if it served their politics.

                If you have enough intellectual dishonesty to allow just a single right be trampled "for any reason" then you have no standing to complain about other when they trample the rights you "happen" to agree with.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 3:28pm

                  Re: Re: Re: democracy is sad

                  Because people are okay with destroying protections when it serves their political purposes.

                  Speak for yourself.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Roger Strong (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:29am

                Re: Re: democracy is sad

                Are you not free to refuse a TSA search?

                I mean, sure, you won't be allowed on the commercial flight. But getting on the flight was never a right. You can still get in your own private aircraft and fly to your destination.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:41am

                  Re: Re: Re: democracy is sad

                  But getting on the flight was never a right.

                  I mean, there's a strong argument that the right "to peaceably assemble" would necessarily include the right to travel to said assemblies using reasonable methods of transport.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:08pm

                  Re: free 2 choose

                  " Are you not free to refuse a TSA search? ... But getting on the flight was never a right. "


                  ... try leaving the immediate screening area once the TSA has actually begun searching you & your belongings -- you will be immediately detained (arrested) for questioning (or worse)... as a highly suspicious person. If you even look nervous/anxious standing in the main line, you will be tagged for 'special' TSA treatment.

                  The 'right to travel' is a bedrock of Anglo-American law going back to the Magna Carta.

                  Also:
                  49 U.S.C. § 40103 : US Code — Section 40103:
                  Sovereignty and use of airspace

                  (2) A citizen of the United States has a public right of transit through the navigable airspace.

                  --------------------------------

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    JMT (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:50pm

                    Re: Re: free 2 choose

                    "The 'right to travel' is a bedrock of Anglo-American law going back to the Magna Carta."

                    The right to travel sure, under your own power. But you have no inherent right to get on a plane owned by a private company and allowed to leave the ground only with a government agency's permission.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:03pm

                      Re: Re: Re: free 2 choose

                      I wonder. If there is no law prohibiting, or restricting people in general from using any public transportation service, and there is no Constitutional restriction against the use of public transportation, then the government has no right to restrict such rights. Any right not restricted by the Constitution is a right held by the populace.

                      IANAL but so far as I can tell, all the restrictions are rules promulgated by law enforcement departments, that don't have the same force as law.

                      So, why isn't the use of public transportation a right? Where is the prohibition? Any constitutionally trained lawyers care to comment?

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                      • icon
                        JMT (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:23pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: free 2 choose

                        You seem to be forgetting that the Constitution is not a list of things you're allowed to do, it's a list of things the government is not allowed to do, or prevent you from doing. And for obvious reasons, there is nothing in the Constitution about airline travel.

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                        • icon
                          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Jun 2017 @ 7:07am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: free 2 choose

                          Exactly. So why are people saying we don't have a right to air travel, it is public transportation, a service offered by companies to the public, isn't it?

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  The Wanderer (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 2:18pm

                  Re: Re: Re: democracy is sad

                  Are you free to offer other people rides on your private aircraft, and fly them to their destinations?

                  What about if you charge them for it - just enough to cover your costs, of course?

                  What about if you start charging more, to make a profit?

                  What about if you use some of those profits to buy more aircraft, and hire other people to pilot those aircraft on your behalf, to fly other people to their destinations?

                  At what point do you cease to be permitted to ignore the security-theater requirements that the TSA has in place?

                  And if you can't ignore them at that point, why can you ignore them before that point?

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 3:30pm

                  Re: Re: Re: democracy is sad

                  Are you not free to refuse a TSA search?

                  If it causes a loss of liberty, as in the liberty to continue your journey unimpeded, then no, you're not "free" to do so.

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                • identicon
                  Cowardly Lion, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:34pm

                  Cafes

                  "You can still get in your own private aircraft and fly to your destination."

                  Not even remotely true - you'd never be allowed to traverse from land-side to air-side. Air crews, ground staff, security, VIPs... EVERYONE at a commercial airport has to pass security.

                  That said, I know of at least 3 international airports where cafes straddle this nominal barrier because once upon a time it made sense to have a single facility serve two sets of customers. Which to my mind means baristas are higher up the pecking order than those TSA clods. Kind of makes sense I suppose, baristas do at least have some skills...

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2017 @ 5:34am

                    Re: Cafes

                    > at a commercial airport

                    Therein lies the rub. There are plenty of non-commercial airports.

                    I went up in a two-seater with a buddy of mine who was getting his pilot's license. We pulled into a parking spot, walked into a small building where he checked the weather and signed & paid for a plane, then walked out the back door onto the tarmac.

                    Not a TSA agent in sight.

                    I believe this is the scenario that many folks are talking about when they say "get your own private aircraft".

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:38am

              Re: Re: Re: democracy is sad

              and yet the TSA and the silly rules exist. So hows that working for you?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2017 @ 6:43am

            Re: Re: democracy is sad

            "the entire basis of democracy is majority-rule"
            Tyranny of the majority.

            When (not if) the majority does not rule, is it still a "democracy"?

            Many political systems make the "democracy" claim, do any of them actually fit the definition?

            Is it a democracy when leaders are voted on but issues are not?

            What is a cult of personality?

            Inquiring minds want to know.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        stderric (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:58am

        Re: Re: democracy is sad

        I for one wholeheartedly support Tyranny of the Majority. Please tell the majority I said that.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:22am

          Re: Re: Re: democracy is sad

          And I wholeheartedly support Tyranny of the Minority.

          Now that we've got the useless rhetoric out of the way...

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          • icon
            stderric (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:49am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: democracy is sad

            I wasn't actually trying to make an argument. I'm sincerely having fun watching things fall apart & eating hot-dog buns. An unlimited supply of Xanax would be better, but I'm not picky. Hail Eris!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:40am

    An observation from the Dune series.

    A population that walks everywhere is much easier to control.

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  • identicon
    suggestor, 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:42am

    Market for book covers

    Titles, such as "Becoming a TSA agent and dealing with the loss of I.Q. thereafter" or "The TSA catalog of resellable confiscated goods" would be neat for book covers...!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:55am

      Re: Market for book covers

      How about "This cover is intentionally blank" for a cover.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:40am

      Re: Market for book covers

      I'd start with one of those coffee-table books containing nothing but pictures.

      The new title & cover: Advanced Steganography

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:52am

      Re: Market for book covers

      More like "Killing Arabic Terrorists in the name of the Great Nation of the Motherfucking Eagles and Jesus".

      Of course you'd paint a big target on your back but never mind, at least your flight would not include cavity searches.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:53am

    One could troll the idiots with books entitled...

    "Pedophiles in the TSA"
    or
    "Confiscating Property the TSA Way"

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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:55am

    This makes sense, as the TSA agents have to carry maps to find their own asses half the time.
    No terrorist is going to have a card with tick off instructions of, make it past security, get on plane, sit near wing, count to 100,000 , ignite the bombs, make sure to scream god is great.

    Ken White (Popehat) had posted on twitter when he ran afoul of the TSA when he was flying to trial. The notes binder fell open onto a page with a diagram of a weapon. It took a supervisor and much time to decide it wasn't a threat to the flight. From the agency that seized the plastic weapon a childs GI Joe was holding because it was a weapon & "rocket shaped" camera lens dusters... do we really want them to have the right to dick people over because they think the book is bad & should be banned?

    (Kens Tweet Thread with Bonus responses from others who have been singled out because of books)
    https://twitter.com/Popehat/status/879111420675108865

    This is just trying to expand the theatre du security to make it more acceptable. Once they get it here, they will expand and expand for less actual security returns but more ways to hassle citizens & justify searches & seizures.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anon, 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:48am

      Yes and No

      I'm tired of people making fun of TSA limitations on liquids. the problem is that some chemicals that can be mixed to make explosives (in the airplane washroom) look like water. Your choices are - ban all liquids above minor quantities, or turn every TSA agent into an advanced chemist and have them test every liquid. I think the first choice is the simplest.

      (Of course, if a dozen terrorists get together on the same flight with 4 oz. apiece, that could make a fairly hefty batch of explosive.)

      Similarly, requiring travelers to haul out their dense materials for closer examination makes sense. I had that happen on recent flight - I have a large collection of US coins culled from Canadian tills where I work. Exchange them at par,30% profit! but a big wad of metal, of course they want to look.

      Similarly, the zero tolerance policies - like all such - need a degree of common sense. If GI Joe's gun couldn't be mistaken for a deadly weapon, then who cares? (Or Kelly Osborne's half-inch gun-shaped flat bracelet charm) But weapons come in all shapes and sizes, better to err on the side of caution.

      I do seriously wonder about the content though. If you don't read Arabic, then why is *any* Arabic material automatically suspect? Over a billion people have a holy book written in Arabic. Is "Eyewitness Illustrated Guide to Military Weapons" (or the History of Medieval Weapons, or Guide to Airliners) an automatic no-no? Anyone involved in History, Political Science, and a number of Engineering and Science disciplines are guaranteed to have objectionable reading material. Can he TSA screening tolerate a system where half the lineup is subject to a deeper scrutiny?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:34am

        Re: Yes and No

        Can he TSA screening tolerate a system where half the lineup is subject to a deeper scrutiny?

        Yes. TSA is not accountable to anyone in particular for missed flights. Airlines have gone out of their way to ensure they do not compensate passengers for flights missed due to TSA malfeasance, so they do not care. (Perversely, they may consider it a bonus, since they keep your money, but save the fuel that would have been spent hauling you.) Put together, this means that the TSA can tolerate a system which causes more delays and more missed seats, up until they manage to concurrently interfere with enough motivated voters that Congress is pushed to rein them in. Given how abusive they already are, and that Congress has not disbanded them or even seriously discussed reducing their power, I think they have quite a bit of slack to go.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:52am

        Re: Yes and No

        Or we could just acknowledge the binary explosives are much harder to manufacture and mix than media would make you think, and that airliners are much harder to destroy than you would assume and take the common sense position that sealed containers or containers less than a liter are OK.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 3:42pm

        Re: Yes and No

        I'm tired of people making fun of TSA limitations on liquids. the problem is that some chemicals that can be mixed to make explosives (in the airplane washroom) look like water. Your choices are - ban all liquids above minor quantities, or turn every TSA agent into an advanced chemist and have them test every liquid. I think the first choice is the simplest.

        You've been watching too many movies (or TSA theater). Besides, in order for that approach to work, they would have to ban liquids above some small amount in total for the entire plane. Otherwise, several people could just get together and combine their nefarious liquids into a larger amount.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:43am

      Re:

      and we have another paper covre for books:
      "TSA maps: How to find your own ass"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:56am

    Take stuff they have never read...

    ... you know.... The Constitution, The Bill Of Rights...

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:59am

    I am willing to accept risk levels of over 100X our current risk to return airport security measures to 1990 levels. Quick googleing shows me there were 37.4 million flights and 3 hijackings worldwide in 2014. Alternately 2001 was the most recent year that there were more than 10 hijackings worldwide and almost half of that total was accumulated on the same day.

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  • identicon
    Jim, 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:02am

    Books to carry while flying

    Koran, or the old testament, with a fold on eye for an eye,
    Cookbook bookmarked on explosives, homemade fireworks, handouts from the local mosque. Short stories, with an exe link. Come on, more!...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:10am

      Re: Books to carry while flying

      I'm thinking some of the old unsolved ciphertexts The Voynich Manuscript, Zodiac Letters or maybe some new ones or random babble. (just for shits n giggles)

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  • identicon
    Tzzeeeman, 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:14am

    Excellent. Now I'll have someone to read my bad fanfiction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:14am

    Social Engineering

    Welp, can't we just call this what it really is?

    Government is just socially engineering us to accept tyrannical authority like it is everyday life.

    And yes, this shit really works, history proves it. People are more than willing to submit to several forms of slavery as long as they understand that... you better to what the TSA says or we will make your life miserable or just dead.

    The police are already walking examples of this. The TSA will not be much farther along to where they have socially engineered us to be accepting of people being shot right in line for making a joke the TSA did not like.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 3:43pm

      Re: Social Engineering

      Government is just socially engineering us to accept tyrannical authority like it is everyday life.

      Also called "conditioning".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    stderric (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:16am

    Umm... chill out, people. You're all getting a little worked up about something that's based on the assumption that anyone in the TSA can actually read.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:44am

    As an added bonus I am sure they will come up with all kinds of creative reasons to keep any of that funny green paper they find. After all, only very bad people carry green paper with presidents printed on it.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:47am

    (L. Frank) Baum threats..

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  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:52am

    Paid access

    Earth Citizens,

    The TSA is proud to announce an additional service to our TSA pre check policy. The TSA Precheck Gold package allows you to keep your shoes on. While the Platinum package allows you to keep your books and electronic devices secured from us. The Gold package starts at $35, while the Platinum is a mere $50. Get yours now.

    TSA is proud to serve.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:19am

    Reading material

    Ok TSA. I have a couple of books you might like - Lady Chatterly's Lover, and Fanny Hill. Oh, and my copy of the Kama Sutra of Vatsayana. Enjoy!

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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:27am

    Crap

    Guess I'll have to stop carrying my bible with the gun in it with my carry-on.

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  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:35am

    It's Not Hard To See Where This Came From

    NSA: "Everything Americans read online, we know about.

    TSA: And we image their smartphones, tablets and laptops when they fly, so we know what they read offline!

    Reporter: But what if they read old-fashioned books and magazines?

    NSA/TSA: ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      stderric (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:58am

      Re: It's Not Hard To See Where This Came From

      NSA: "We can only end terrorism by putting backdoors in printed media."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:53am

      Re: It's Not Hard To See Where This Came From

      gee I wonder what they could do to make more people move to non paper books... say maybe force you to pull out books at all checkpoints maybe.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Champion, 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:37am

    "How nosy is the TSA" by I.P. Dailey

    why this is easy

    "How nosy is the TSA" by I.P. Dailey

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bshock, 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:53am

    Welcome to the 20th century, too bad we're in the 21st

    You want to know what I'm reading? You won't find it on paper, you silly cavemen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Snape (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:02am

    A plan

    Why not have twenty to thirty people print out some Supreme Court decisions, put them in a binder and label it "Correspondence with Attorney" and after they read through it, sue them for violating Attorney-Client privilege?

    We need to be proäctive, people!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:26am

      Re: A plan

      Does attorney-client privilege exist in the Constitution Free Zone (which would include any international airport, even those are not included on the maps of the Constitution Free zone I have seen)? Do any rights exist there?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:10am

    I they asked what book I was reading I would happily tell them it's a thrilling book called "None Of Your Business" and once I'm done with it read the sequel called "Come Back With A Warrant".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bruce C., 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:04am

    RTFA...

    It's not completely clear, but the purpose of this doesn't appear to be to see what you're reading, it's to get the dense organic books out of the containers that might contain dense organic explosives.

    Knowing the surveillance state, it's entirely possible they'll have the people who assist passengers along the conveyor belts checking out the literary contents of the bins. So I foresee more instances of people reading books in one of dem dam furrin' languages getting pulled aside/kicked off flights, etc.

    I guess it would be a small benefit to have it happen at the security checkpoint, rather than when your seatmate on the aircraft realizes he can't understand the title of your book and calls the flight attendant to finger you as a suspicious character. At least it saves all the time waiting in the gate area and so on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:46am

    It's also remotely possible that the TSA are concerned about the possibility of a book or stack of papers being made of nitrocellulose, an easily made explosive that can look just like ordinary paper.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:24am

      Re:

      Standard explosive scanners will find that, as they find highly nitrated compounds. Also, it tends to be impact sensitive, especially if it get a bit warm. That was the problem with the original cellulose billiard balls, and nitrate film stock.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 12:00pm

        Re: Re:

        "Standard explosive scanners will find that, as they find highly nitrated compounds."

        Hopefully they can also find the raw reagents used to make the "highly nitrated compounds" but I wouldn't hold my breath.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 2:24pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Considering that my wife now has to carry nitroglycerin with her, I'm not looking forward to our next flight.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 4:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It's kind of funny that anything considered a "medication" in the eyes of the TSA is completely exempt from their three-ounce-per-bottle rule, and travelers have reported being allowed to take some rather large bottles of things like contact lens fluid.

            It would not be surprising if a large bottle (or even many small bottles) of "medical" nitroglycerin were allowed onto the plane in carry-on, since in any large government bureaucracy, following "the rules" to the letter generally overrides even the most basic common sense.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:58am

    I think you missed the point of this one. Its all about the density of the books. They don't care what your reading they just need to be able to see through it with the x-ray. I don't know what the thickness is, but there is some thickness of paper that will block the x-ray to a point that the tech looking at the image cant determine if its paper or explosive. When the paper is removed it can be spread out into thinner piles that the x-ray can go through. In fact this is the same reason they make you take you Laptop out. The battery is so dense that it can be hard to determine if it is a battery or not, and if there is something else behind it then the tech really cant tell what is in the luggage. When they are separated they can tell what they are looking at, kinda, X-ray is not really that good, which is the problem.

    This idea that they want to know what your reading is just as much FUD as going dark.

    There is certainly a privacy issue for people who have to take books out, but in most cases that can be fixed with by putting you books in individual paper bags. The TSA won't open each one up to read the book. They will just send them trough the X-ray not in one big stack. If they decided to use the chemical detector thing then they may want to open up the bag. That could case an issue but the TSA still isn't going to be intentionally checking what the book is, and a book cover would fix most of that.

    That said I do agree that TSA is mostly theater and much of the crazy things they do could be gotten rid of.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:10am

      Re:

      "I think you missed the point of this one."

      I think we all know who is missing the point. Only a fool would be willing to assume that any government entity is 100% honest with you up front about their motives.

      But don't let me stop you from drinking the kool-aid... it is a mighty fine beverage after all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Trottingwolf, 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re:

        You can be ignorant about what is going on around you and assume people are involved in some crazy conspiracy, or you can understand the motivation for peoples actions to determine when you need to be concerned about those actions.

        The government does not have to be upfront with me about its motives if I understand the reasoning and technical issues in a decision they make.

        I understand how the x-ray works and what some of the limitations are. I have encountered those limitations and modified my behavior to make my times in a TSA security line go faster. It was a simple as taking the bag of batteries for my drone out of my luggage so that the x-ray would not have a problem looking through them. The same would be true if I was taking a large stack of books. Or, as I have also experienced, having a pocket with a couple of flashlights spare change, car keys and a few other metal items. They had to rerun my jacket because the way everything stacked the x-ray tech could not determine if there was anything dangerous in my jacket. When they re-scanned my jacket they just made sure the stuff was spread out better. The TSA didn't even open the pocket on my jacket. All they needed was to be able to see nothing in there was dangerous. If I had spread the stuff better or used more pockets so it was not all stacked up it would not have been an issue.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2017 @ 6:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah - there is no conspirators out there looking to do their nefarious deeds, move along - nothing to see here.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2017 @ 1:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Of course there are people who are looking to do nefarious deeds.

            The TSA making people take out paper is not being considered for nefarious reasons. There may be some nefarious side effects, but to claim that the reason they are making people take out paper is so that the TSA can read it is total FUD. Saying that the TSA might be implementing a that can have some privacy concerns and here is how you can deal with it, would be much more accurate.

            Sure some people may have issues if some stupid TSA gets it up their butt that reading a book on something they don't like/understand makes a terrorist, and that is an issue. However scaring people into thinking that the TSA WANTS to read every book going through the airport is not going to help the situation. INFORMING people about the new policy, why it was implemented and how to deal with it would help.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:16am

      Re:

      You know, you're right! The best way to make sure of what's being scanned is to grind it up, torch it, and do a spectral analysis on the vapor. It's the only way to be sure...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:51am

      Re:

      "in most cases that can be fixed with by putting you books in individual paper bags."

      Dunno about that. They still won't be able to see through the book, so then they will need to open the bag to flip through the pages to make sure something isn't in a cutout section in the book"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 12:53pm

        Re: Re:

        This is where a lot of the misunderstanding is coming from. A single book would not be thick enough to block to X-ray to the point that they have to look through the book. However a stack of books would block the X-Ray. So they are not going to spend a bunch of time opening up all the books in a stack when they can just un-stack them and send them back through the X-ray. That would be much faster. Oh wait if they have people do that before they even put the luggage through the X-ray the first time then they wont have to send stuff back through a bunch of times. Well that's the logic anyway.

        This is now becoming a problem because the number of people who have too many books in the luggage, thus requiring a second run through the X-ray, is high enough that it would be faster to have everyone unpack books first. If people with too many books was still just a rare occurrence then it would still be faster to only re-scan the few that the x-ray can't see through.

        I had a similar problem when trying to take lipo batteries for my drone on some flights. I have all the batteries in a "Lipo Safe" bag to help limit problems if there is a fire. If I keep the bag of batteries in my luggage the X-ray cant see through the batteries and the stuff in my bag. In that case TSA will make me pull them out and run just the bag of batteries through the X-ray again. If I pull out the bag of batteries before I go through the X-ray the first time they never even say anything about it.

        Its all about what the X-ray tech can see in the crappy image and X-ray gives. If they are not sure its safe they will recheck somehow. If they can tell what it is and that its ok then they just let it pass.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 3:50pm

      Re:

      The TSA won't open each one up to read the book.

      And just what, exactly, will be stopping them?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Professor Ronny, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:21am

    "Deciding to drive not only takes longer, but subjects people to a whole new set of issues.)"

    Especially if you are black.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 4:24pm

      Re: Driving issues

      Especially if you are black.

      Or driving on a major drug corridor, also known as an Interstate Highway.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:44pm

    Isn't it about time for lead-lined carryons anyway?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    OC, 27 Jun 2017 @ 3:58am

    I'm a bit late to the party so apologies if someone already brought this up.

    This has nothing to do with paper books, it's just the first step which they will later use to justify looking at other types of books, like e-books. If people have accepted having their paper books inspected, surely they understand that looking at their e-books is necessary as well. And since they then already have access to the tablet or phone they might as well have a quick look at other things as well. Nothing to worry about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Boba Fat (profile), 27 Jun 2017 @ 8:50am

    If they really wanted to be heroes...

    ...the TSA could mandate that airlines can't charge for checked bags. Carry-ons would be fewer and lighter, passengers would be happier, and they'd have plenty of time to X-ray and paw through the checked baggage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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