Former DHS official: privacy activists responsible for TSA groping

A former DHS official has said the reason TSA staff have to grope you at airports is all because of privacy advocates.

At a Senate panel, Stewart Baker, formerly DHS Assistant Secretary and NSA General Counsel, said that you can’t blame the TSA for “stupid screening” as it was all the fault of “privacy campaigners”.

Tech Dirt reports Baker praised the border screening programme.

He said the DHS quickly realised that taking more time to inspect everyone would not solve the problem so it began gathering more background data earlier on all travellers, and they used that data to decide which travellers needed more than 30 seconds of attention.

Privacy campaigners did their best to kill this system and to make matters worse those pesky Europeans were also moaning about it.

After ten years negotiating, the European Union was “far more enthusiastic about regulating American security programs than its own security agencies,” Baker muttered.

But thanks to the combined efforts of the EU and privacy campaigners to kill off data profiling, the TSA ended up taking more time to inspect everyone and had to treat all travellers as potential terrorists.

He said that privacy lobbies persuaded Congress that the TSA couldn’t be trusted with data about the travellers it was screening. With no information about travellers, the TSA had no choice but to treat them all alike, he argued.

Baker listed the virtues of TSA’s Secure Flight and PreCheck programme, which includes having a background check run on applicants.

Since being formed in late 2001, the TSA has been subject to criticism for overly invasive spot checks, including frisking children publicly.