Security Horror Stories (Weekly Roundup)

This Week’s Security Horror Story :  Have you ever noticed how most legislation that is introduced to protect us against terrorists seems to end up doing little or nothing to help us ‘win the war against terrorism’, while adding another layer of inconvenience and restriction on ordinary people for no apparent good purpose?

Many of these new measures are naïvely introduced by politicians with good intentions but bad understandings; by people who can legislate more quickly than they can think.

To read an analysis of the latest example of legislation that does nothing to fight terrorism, please click the link.

Next time you go through airport security screening, please be sure to be well behaved.

Did you know that if you upset the TSA, you risk being entered into a special database of theirs that keeps details of people who make its screeners feel ‘threatened’.  Whatever you do, don’t threaten a TSA screener with the brutal application of logic or common sense.

If you work for a government agency, airport, airlines, railroads, or bus system, the TSA may retaliate for your ‘threatening’ a screener by calling your boss and secretly complaining about you.  Or, if at some future stage you apply for such a job, you may find any entry about you (or someone with a similar name…) coming back to haunt you too.

The nastiest part of this is that in two or three or 10 or 20 years time, you will probably have absolutely no memory of the alleged event, and no way to credibly rebut the allegations, or to give your side of the story, or to try and prove that it was not you, but someone else entirely.

This is a dreadfully un-American and unfair situation.  If the TSA have a legitimate grievance, they should formally raise it with you and get some type of third-party dispute resolution process to rule on the issue.  They should not secretly record their side of the story only and then trap you with it, many years later.

One thing is for sure.  A lot of these entries will be ‘defensive’ entries by screeners who choose to enter a ‘complaint’ of their own to protect them in the case you subsequently complain about them or their behavior.  Whatever the circumstance, their side of the story will be far from impartial and unbiased.  Years later, it will be their written word against your inability to even remember anything about the situation, and – worst of all – you might never even know about it.  You might find that the really good job you seemed certain to get somehow mysteriously goes to someone else at the last moment, with the hiring manager acting strange and embarrassed.

Details here.

Bottom line :  any time you have any type of altercation with the TSA and it escalates to a point where they in some form or another are able to ascertain your possible ID, you should make your own contemporaneous notes about the situation as soon as possible, and then follow up with a freedom of information request to the TSA requesting details of all information they may have stored about you in any of their files or databases.  If they write back and tell you they are holding no information, keep that response, so that if at any future stage you have problems, you can point to that response and claim that it must be a case of mistaken identity.

Maybe even keep a copy of this blog entry, so you can explain why it is that you went to the unusual length of asking the TSA if they were keeping any information about you on file.

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