News and Highlights.
Texas bans TSA “grope” searches.
Texas has become the first state to ban intrusive airport security pat downs.
The bill, passed late last night, aims to make touching travellers in an ‘inappropriate’ way during searches a criminal offence.
The measure makes it illegal for anyone conducting pat-downs to touch ‘the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person’ including through clothing.It also prohibits searches ‘that would be offensive to a reasonable person.
‘This (bill) has to do with dignity and travel, and prohibiting indecent, groping searches,’ Republican Representative David Simpson, the bill’s chief sponsor said. He believes it will keep TSA officials from treating travellers like criminals. Chief sponsor of the bill, Republican Rep David Simpson, said the bill was about dignity and travel, and prohibiting indecent, groping searches
‘It’s a way of getting attention and objecting to the intrusiveness of the search procedures,’ Alan Rosenthal, professor of public policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey told USA Today.
‘But I don’t think any of that could pre-empt federal requirements.’
New Jersey is one of three other states to introduce similar legislation but is yet to pass its own bill. Similarly in New Hampshire a proposed bill, that would make the ‘touching or viewing of a person’s breasts or genitals’ by airport security staff a sexual assault, is still languishing at the committee stage.
The bill’s co-sponsor Representative Andrew Manuse, has been very vocal about the aggressive nature of the TSA pat-downs and controversial full-body scanners.
‘Let’s put their name on the sex offender registry, and maybe that will tell them New Hampshire means business,’ Mr Manuse said in governor meeting earlier this year.
Hawaii has also introduced legislation for a possible ban, while other states are calling on the TSA to re-think its screening strategies.
THE TEXAS RESTRICTIONS
Under the passed Texas bill it will be a criminal offence for any airport security staff to:
- Search another person without probable cause to believe the person committed an offence.
- Touches the anus, sexual organ, or breasts of the other person, including touching through clothing.
- Touching the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person.
Alaska passed such a resolution in March and similar resolutions have been introduced in six other states.
The TSA has been dogged by controversy and outcry since it began a more aggressive pat-down procedure in October and introduced full-body scanners that leave little to the imagination.
Just this week a disturbing photograph which shows a baby being subjected to a full-body search by airport security caused outrage when it was posted online.
The shocking photograph comes just a month after the TSA were widely condemned after footage emerged of a six-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy being subjected to the searches in separate incidents at airports across America.
The agency says it has been ‘actively reviewing its screening policies and procedures to streamline and improve the screening experience for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers.’
A TSA spokesman told MailOnline: ‘It is not TSA’s policy to not discuss or comment on pending legislation.’
Texas makes the first move in banning the TSA’s current patdown practices. But the Texas GOP aren’t the only ones upset with TSA. House Republicans denied their $76 million budget request for additional scanners.