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TSA changes practice based on passenger blog comments

Orders halt to policy requiring travelers to remove all electronic devices from carry-ons

By Heather Havenstein
February 7, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Less than a week after the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a new blog site to gather feedback from air travelers and respond to their suggestions, it halted a practice at some airports that required travelers to remove all electronic equipment from carry-on luggage during security screenings.

After receiving questions on the blog beginning earlier this week about some airports requiring travelers to remove everything BlackBerries, iPods, electrical cords and the like from carry-on luggage for screening, TSA officials were left "scratching our heads" about this practice, the agency noted Wednesday in a blog post.

"We checked with our security operations team to figure out what was going on," TSA noted on the blog. "After some calls to our airports, we learned that this exercise was set up by local TSA offices and was not part of any grand plan across the country. These practices were stopped on Monday afternoon and BlackBerries, cords and iPods began to flow through checkpoints like the booze was flowing on Bourbon Street Tuesday night. (Fat Tuesday, of course)."

The blog went on to note that TSA hopes that examples like this "validate our forum" and show that the dialog on the blog can help increase security while making everyone's lives a bit easier.

Some readers on the TSA blog applauded the move, while others questioned how TSA could have not been aware of this practice. For example, one user identified as "Lmerkin" said that the blog staff should be thanked for "tracking down the BlackBerry issues rather than finding one more thing to taunt [TSA] about."

But another user, identified as "Anonymous," asserted that the policy of "rogue screeners" creating their own policies has been an ongoing issue in airports.

"It's an embarrassment that the TSA does not know what's going on it its own house without this blog," Anonymous added. "Please, figure out what's going on in your own house, clean it up thoroughly, then come brag to us about it. This is nothing more than a public relations stunt in which you've allowed things to deteriorate to the point where enforcing your own policies on your employees is considered an improvement."

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