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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

The Transportation Safety Administration is considering implementing a new national policy that would require passengers to remove books from their bags at airport checkpoints, like they do laptops. And given the administration’s reputation for religious profiling, the procedure could be used to violate passengers’ First Amendment rights.

“[B]ooks raise very special privacy issues,” Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote in response. “There 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.”

One week after implementing a restriction on large electronic devices, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly previewed changes travelers may experience going into the summer.

“We’re going to raise the bar for, generally speaking, aviation security, much higher than it is now,” Kelly told “Fox News Sunday” host  Chris Wallace on May 28.

Books aren’t the only items being targeted. The new policy applies to all paper products, and has been introduced in two states—Missouri and California—since May.

So far, it’s proven disastrous for an industry already under heavy scrutiny.

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.