TSA Blog Draws Hundreds Of Comments, Prompts A Change - InformationWeek

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TSA Blog Draws Hundreds Of Comments, Prompts A Change

The Transportation Security Administration's Evolution of Security blog drew more than 700 comments on the first day.

The Transportation Security Administration's new Internet forum is quite a hit in the blogosphere.

TSA, charged with setting rules for airport security, drew more than 700 comments on the first day of its Evolution of Security blog. In a little over a week since the blog and an accompanying forum launched, air passengers continue to appear enthusiastic about voicing their complaints. That's no surprise considering TSA estimates count 2 million air travelers moving through U.S. airport checkpoints every day.

Most are irate over watching half-used tubes of toothpaste and other personal care products get tossed into trash cans at security checkpoints. Many wondered if they're a threat, why are they left next to long lines of passengers waiting to be screened? One passenger complained of watching a TSA officer drink her unopened bottle of water after confiscating it while she waited in line.

Already, one widespread mistake has been acknowledged and reportedly corrected.

In a post titled "Hurray Bloggers! A Win for the Blogosphere," a TSA blogger said earlier this week that people who have posted comments had "their first official impact on our operations."

"On Monday afternoon we began receiving questions about airports that were requiring ALL electronics to be removed from carry-on bags (everything, including BlackBerrys, iPods, and even cords). This practice was also mentioned on several other blogs and left us scratching our heads," the post explained. "So ... we checked with our security operations team to figure out what was going on. 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."

TSA said the practice stopped Monday.

"Our hope is that examples like this validate our forum and show the solid partnerships we can form with our customers -- the traveling public -- in not only increasing security but in making all of our lives just a little easier," the blog stated.

TSA launched the blog Jan. 31 in hopes of promoting more understanding between its workers and the flying public. The bloggers don't answer every comment directly, but they do respond to overall topics and some questions that are asked repeatedly.

"We at TSA understand the 'why' of the security process and the reasoning behind it, but the public's perception of TSA is based solely on their checkpoint experience," TSA Administrator Kip Hawley said when the blog launched. "We need to do a better job of explaining the 'why.' This blog is aimed at providing an interactive forum where people can share feedback and get answers."

TSA also plans to post videos and other features.

As security continues to change, the blog will address new measures. In the near future, those will include more observation of passengers for suspicious behavior, multiview X-ray machines for carry-on baggage, and whole body imaging, according to TSA.

TSA also has been able to use the blog to inform confused newspaper readers that customs officers, not TSA workers, have been examining and confiscating laptops and other electronics.

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