New TSA 'Trusted Travelers' Program Will Make Us All Feel Like Criminals

airport securityThere's almost nothing airplane passengers should loathe more than being treated like cattle in a security line at the airport. And it's gotten worse lately. Passengers who don't adhere to some of the ridiculous Transportation Security Administration protocol -- or even those who do! -- have suffered what can only be described as horror stories. (Remember the incidents involving the search of a 6-year-old and how about the breast cancer patient who was hassled just this past week?) So, it's actually a major relief that someone had the sense to suggest that maybe the TSA should start demonstrating their trust in regular American airline customers!

The agency chief, John Pistole, announced today that the TSA will soon unveil a "trusted traveler" program, which is supposed to help expedite screening in U.S. airports. Sounds awesome, right? That is, until you read the "fine print."


First of all, they're just testing it out right now among a small group of passengers, and if it's successful -- meaning, it doesn't result in any perfume or underwear bombs? -- they'll expand it. But slightly more concerning: Under this so-called "trusted traveler" program, travelers would "voluntarily surrender more information about themselves, giving the government more assurances of who they are." How much and just what information they'll seek was not disclosed. Surprise, surprise!

Haha, okay, can we please explore what "more information" means exactly? Do TSA agents have to friend us on Facebook, so they can make sure we're not "like"-ing Al Qaeda's Wikipedia page or listening to "violent" music? Or maybe we have to let them cruise around on our iPhones for a little while to make sure we're not downloading questionable, terrorist-y apps! Maybe you have to go through a screening period in which your Internet use is monitored for a month! (Note to self: Don't let boyfriend use MacBook to look at weird fetish sites or YouTube videos of people blowing stuff up for giggles.)

But seriously, I don't understand what this means. What additional information is going to make the TSA trust us even more? Why do they even need that from us? Shouldn't a legit U.S. I.D. and lack of any kind of sketchy or criminal record be, uh, everything they need to know? But what do we know ... we're just the cattle, they're the ones who are "protecting" us with their pat-downs and cancer-causing scans. Maybe we should trust them when they say they're going to make an effort to trust us more?

What do you think about this new program?


Image via Hunter Desportes/Flickr

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