My name is Jon, and I’m an entrepreneur and a frequent traveler, both for my businesses and for personal travel. My largest business works in technology, and quite simply, I need to fly to maintain my customer relationships. About 2 weeks ago, the TSA introduced new screening policies at airport checkpoints all over the country. To put it bluntly, travelers are given a choice between letting the TSA photgraph or touch your private parts.
The nude body scanners (also known as “AIT devices,” “backscatter x-rays,” and by at least one TSA agent, a “dick measuring device”) produce clear and graphic images of ones body. The TSA justifies this by saying, “Well, only one person gets to see it, and he’s far away and can’t save the images.” Even if we assume this to be true, it does not make the virtual strip search any less of a virtual strip search, and doesn’t make it any more right.
If you decline the nude body scanners, the TSA requires you to submit to an “enhanced pat down,” during which they will be grabbing between your legs. The TSA has been reported by many to have not only touched, but squeezed, lifted, and twisted the genitals, butt, and breasts of passengers for no reason other than that they purchased an air ticket.
The incidences of this have been plenty, and a simple Google or YouTube search will turn up plenty of results. In one of the more troubling cases, a man recently declined to allow the TSA to touch “his junk” and was threatened with a $10,000 fine for non-compliance.
This afternoon, I filed lawsuit in Federal court in Miami requesting an injunction against the TSA to prevent them from touching or photographing our private areas without any reasonable suspicion. Having grown up in New York and personally seeing the smoke rise from the towers that morning in 2001, I know the threat of terrorism is real, and I know we must defend ourselves. This does not mean that the Constitution should be ignored, and indeed, the TSA has plenty of alternative screening procedures that are less invasive. Besides the privacy issue, there have been health issues raised as to the radiation produced by the imaging devices, as well as efficacy issues, with no good studies having been done to show that this imagery makes us any safer.
The best defense for an airplane is the travelers, who I’m confident post-9/11 would stand up and beat the crap out of anyone who tried to hijack a plane. Indeed, the passengers of aircraft since 9/11 have stopped multiple terrorist attacks, while I know of not one time that the TSA has stopped a terrorist with an explosive from going through security. So, I urge the TSA to not make us feel like criminals or try to force us to be submissive to their sexual assaults, as we, not you, are the last line of defense on that plane.
My lawsuit asks for no money damages and is entirely self-funded. I expect it will end up being expensive and if you would like to make a donation, you can send it via PayPal (e-mail below), but the more important donation is for you to write to and call your legislators, and if travelling, refuse to allow the government to photograph or touch you (and your family) in a way that makes you uncomfortable. Please don’t let the government treat you like this. By standing up for yourself, you stand up for all of us.
The case is Corbett v. US, 10-CV-24106, filed in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. If you are an attorney interested in assisting, please also feel free to contact me.
Thanks for reading,
jon [at] fourtentech.com
Corbett v. US – Complaint (.pdf)