Fight Discriminatory TSA Profiling With Your Smartphone

It’s hard to find any travelers with nice things to say about the Transportation Safety Administration, but members of the Sikh faith really have a grievance. They claim that they’re singled out for secondary screening at airport security to an extent that’s discriminatory, and frequently ordered to allow inspections or removal of their turbans. So they’re fighting back in 21st century fashion: with a smartphone app.

Yesterday, civil rights group The Sikh Coalition released a free app for people of every (or no) religion and every ethnicity. The Android and iPhone app lets you track incidents of discrimination at airport security, and report them to the proper authorities. And to Twitter, which is probably also important. The real question is whether those authorities will pay any attention.

The app was designed with input from various ethnic and religious minorities. It contains information on air passengers’ rights and a form to describe incidents of discrimination, with the opportunity to submit them right to the TSA and Department of Homeland Security.

In a statement, Sikh Coalition program director Amardeep Singh said:

For too long the TSA has kept a long leash on its screeners, telling them not to profile, but has taken no effective measures to stop it. Until that happens, we call on the public to hold the TSA accountable by downloading the FlyRights app and filing reports when appropriate.

FlyRights [Official Site]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Citizen says:

    I know that as a white, christian, 34 year old male, with a college degree, that has never been out of the country, and only flies about 6 time a year that I get pulled out for a more detailed inspection every time I fly. I wounder what profile I meet?

    • az123 says:

      You are the statistical white guy that makes their annual numbers look good

    • JennQPublic says:

      Timothy McVeigh? Andrew Joseph Stack III? Andrew Kehoe?

      Which one do you most closely identify with?

      /Scared of white men.

    • Bativac says:

      We meet similar profiles, except I’m a year younger, I’ve left the country twice, and I’m not really a practicing Christian (well, I mean, I celebrate Christmas, if that makes a difference).

      Maybe you have shifty eyes. Are your eyes shifty?

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      You fit the profile of the kind of person they have to “randomly” screen in order to avoid the perception that they’re profiling people.

    • UberGeek says:

      In my 20s, I fit a similar profile and received the “random” extra screening every time (no strip searches, though). It stopped once I got married and started bringing my wife and/or kids. You can’t tell me they’re not profiling. Well, I guess you could try but I ain’t listening. La-la-la-la-la….

    • Ed says:

      None. You have no protections.

    • shthar says:

      name end in a vowel?

  2. homehome says:

    Well on average I get search about 10% and I am a young african-american, I don’t feel it’s excessive.

    • JennQPublic says:

      When I traveled with a man from the Middle East, I got extra screening every time, but he went right through. He always got extra screening when he traveled alone though.

      I figured the assumption was that if he were a terrorist he would plant the explosives on me or brainwash me into joining his cause. Seems reasonable. Neither of us ever complained about it.

  3. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    Sorry Sikhs, but you don’t get to go through security without having your turban inspected just because you’re Sikh. Because…now try to follow along here…someone who is NOT a Sikh could dress like you, claim to be Sikh, and waltz right through security carrying a turban full of cupcake icing.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      No one is saying they should never have to remove it for security reasons. However, asking them to remove them more often than, say, they ask other flyers to remove their underwear is not OK. Both are considered personal and embarrassing, but may reasonably be necessary if a scanner or metal detector shows something questionable. Part of the problem is that TSOs may not let them remove their turban in private (with just a TSO present), as TSA regulations state they should.

      Seriously, thing about it like you think about your crotch. No one should just come up and grab you there, they shouldn’t remove stuff for you or ask you to do it out in the open, but sometimes it might be necessary to allow a private inspection.

      • wetrat says:

        If you believe that it is EVER “necessary to allow a private inspection” of my crotch by the TSA’s poorly educated, rude, thieving screeners, you are part of the problem in this country.

        I am sick and tired of people saying that those of us who don’t want our penises “inspected” should choose not to fly. How about those of you who have irrational fears of extremely unlikely events choose not to fly? It would make the experience much more pleasant, and you can bathe in the irony that you are orders of magnitude more likely to die being hit by a drunk or speeding driver than I am on the plane, even in the potential presence of people who haven’t had their penises inspected for weapons.

        • JennQPublic says:

          I have yet to see or hear of the TSA actually inspecting anyone’s penis. I’ve been through extra screening several times, and haven’t even been truly groped. The friskiest she got was pushing on the back of my bra strap to ensure that what set off her wand was metal clasps and not a bomb.

          I have, however, seen and heard of people unreasonably exaggerating how thorough the screening is.

        • dilbert69 says:

          Dude, my penis IS a weapon. Of love.

      • liam_cos says:

        No. It isn’t like your underwear, and the complaint says nothing about not being allowed to do it privately.

        Also with underwear they can pat with the back of their hands, with their headwear having so many layers you can hide soemthing in it.

    • huadpe says:

      If you wear a turban full of cupcake icing, does that mean your clothes are like the paper cupcake wrapper?

    • Gorbachev says:

      I wonder what good are the scanners the TSA bought at a great expense to the American taxpayers, if they can’t adequately detect threats hidden inside headwear.

      One could almost make the conclusion that the TSA (and us) didn’t really get what they paid for.

    • TerpBE says:

      The latest intercepted documents from Al Qaeda indicate they were planning to do exactly this. They have referred to this tactic as “Hide in Sikh”

    • Firethorn says:

      Heh, this reminds me – I heard on the radio a while ago that some group is dressing as muslim women in full Burqa* to rob places – killed a barber in one incident. Quite a bit of outrage because it ‘raised suspicion of muslim women’.

      Didn’t catch where though.

      *Which when reading up on it real quick was historically actually worn when traveling through the desert and you needed clothing to keep the sand out of your face.

    • giax says:

      Yes, but the fake one would have another last name than Singh.

  4. pitawg says:

    Did they forget the reason/option for hotness we kept hearing about?

  5. RandomHookup says:

    Are they trying to find the kirpan?

    /educated about the Sikhs

  6. bwohlgemuth says:

    The best part of this article…

    The app was designed with input from various ethnic and religious minorities.

    Amazing how people can come together when facing a common foe.

  7. GrammatonCleric says:

    I get(well got, considering I don’t fly anymore) pulled aside EVERY time. Then again when you speak out against the government as much as I do I expect their goons to try and put me into submission every chance they get.

    Gotta be afraid of that White Al-Qaeda y’know, I might blow something up even though the whole reason I question the government is because I actually care about my country.

    I love how they have people running around in total fear of something that isn’t even an actual threat. Better not leave home for too long or Johnny Jihad might blow up my house by the time I get back. Timmy Taliban over there is paying for his coffee with cash, DHS says we gotta keep an eye on him.

    Again this is all expected from a government who defines a group of terrorists as “fiercely nationalistic, anti-global, suspicious of centralized federal authority, reverent of individual liberty…” sounds just like a real American citizen to me.

    But don’t worry, the main-stream media says you can discount everything I say by sticking to the talking points they put out. This guy doesn’t trust the government, he must believe that crazy lizards rule the earth and stuff HAHAHA.

    • legotech says:

      “fiercely nationalistic, anti-global, suspicious of centralized federal authority, reverent of individual liberty…”

      sounds like you just wrote the textbook definition of a Tea Partier.

      • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

        I am suspicious of the Federal government and value individual liberty, but I am in no way affiliated with the Tea Party. Not terribly nationalistic, though. As derptastic and condescending as GC’s post sounded, he has a point: Why the fuck are we, a people who carved a country out of the wilderness (and took parts of it by force), a people who told the King of England to go fuck himself, and a people who faced Confederate minie balls to keep the damn country in one piece, afraid of phantoms? Why are we afraid of things that have no credible source? What are we so goddamn afraid of? And why aren’t more of us angry about it?

  8. mannyvel says:

    You can also use it to file generic complaints about things like being groped…though that is a different form.

  9. Steve H. says:

    I had to look up the difference between race and ethnicity after seeing that image. Turns out that I learned something new today.

  10. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    Here’s my modest proposal: Get rid of the TSA. Problem solved.

    • lucyrickyalex says:

      And then use the money saved to increase intelligence measures that have, so far, been much more successful in stopping attacks?

      • Lyn Torden says:

        Come on people … we’re not having as much fun when you guys ruin the game with reasonable, sensible, logical, and economically sane proposals.

  11. sweaterhogans says:

    My husband and I get pulled out fairly often. He’s mixed race but looks white, and I’m Indian. We usually fly out of Philly, so there’s not a whole lot of any screening going on. It depends what race that state or country is biased against. I’m sure if I flew out of Texas they’d assume I’m Mexican. When we fly out of Newark or travel through Canada, we get “randomly” selected every single time. Even on the road, a cop pulled us over and said to him “Who is she? Do you know her?” …I was sitting in the f-ing passenger’s seat! Guess I looked to Indian that day. Though I’m not sure why someone would want to smuggle INTO Canada.

  12. do-it-myself says:

    I’m proud they were intelligent enough to separate out Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality!

  13. Kuri says:

    And the next item on the list of things you’re not longer allowed as part of your carry on is…..

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      I can see the headlines now!
      “TSA baggage screener caught with 23 stolen smartphones on his person!”

  14. oldwiz65 says:

    hahahaha…like the TSA cares about complaints. The flle the complaints in an important file, also known as the trash. Considering they let screeners get away with all kinds of criminal behavior, I can’t see them worrying about discriminatory profiling. The cops do it as well, especially in Arizona,and consider it perfectly legal.

  15. maxamus2 says:

    Jesse Jackson pulls out the race card, these guys pull out the race app. LOL

  16. Theoncomingstorm says:

    But we need MORE discriminatory profiling, not less!

  17. shufflemoomin says:

    What’s the religion got to do with it? They’ve got a large item on their head and it needs checked, regardless of what bullcrap reason they think they have for not having their turban checked. Try walking through a security check point with a beachtowel wrapped round your head. Is it discrimination when they want to check it because I’m not wearing it for religious reasons? I swear the religion card is the new race card. Newsflash people: Not everything that happens to you is because of your religion, nationality or colour of your skin. You’re just looking for an excuse to get treated better than everyone else.

  18. Libertas says:

    The whole situation makes me sikh.