The Transportation Safety Administration may implement new safety procedures that would require air travelers to remove books from their carry on bags during the airport screening process, and allow TSA agents to go through them.
While the new policy has not been finalized, it's reported that passengers could be required to remove all reading material and even food from carry on bags and place them in separate bins, just as we do with our laptop computers.
These new procedures are currently being tested in select airports around the country and, as Homeland Security Chief John Kelly said last month on Fox News, "we might, and likely will" roll the policy out nationwide.
As Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst with the ACLU explains:
The rationale for the policy change given by Kelly and the TSA is that the imposition of growing fees for checked baggage by the airlines has prompted passengers to more densely pack their carry-ons, and that this has made it harder for screeners to identify particular items amid the jumble of images appearing on their screens.
But this policy raises serious privacy concerns.
TSA agents have long had the authority to search your bag if they see an anomaly or unidentifiable object in the x-ray, and such a search would include seeing any reading materials therein. The fact is, exposure of reading materials is part of the privacy that is lost when we allow bag searches. But this policy would lead to more routine and systematic exposure and, inevitably, greater scrutiny of passengers’ reading materials in the course of the screening process.
The ACLU aren't the only ones expressing concern about this policy.