Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK!

Web: www.stevenfrischling.com — E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

07/04/2009 – Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK!

Over the past few years photographers in the United States have run into some significant difficulties when photographing near Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport security checkpoints and directly photographing TSA checkpoints. Some incidents have resulted in a lecture others in photographers being detained.

Some might find it interesting that recently the TSA has made an official statement clearly stating that photographing TSA security-screening checkpoints is not illegal, forbidden or restricted.

On the 31st of March the TSA posted the following statements through their Office of Strategic Communications & Public Relations:

We don’t prohibit public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping, or filming at screening locations. You can take pictures at our checkpoints as long as you’re not interfering with the screening process or slowing things down. We also ask that you do not film or take pictures of our monitors.

However… while the TSA does not prohibit photographs at screening locations, local laws, state statutes, or local ordinances might. Your best bet is to call ahead and see what that specific airport’s policy is.

In my experience, I have been stopped while photographing at TSA checkpoints on various photo assignments. More than once I have been told it is the Policy of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to not allow photography of TSA checkpoints (the TSA falls under the DHS). On at least two occasions I have been clearly notified by law enforcement that the airport has no restrictions on photography in public areas, however the TSA/DHS has restrictions on photography of TSA checkpoints.

The problems related to photographing TSA checkpoints has always seemed a little bit odd from a security standpoint. There is nothing to stop someone from performing surveillance by standing and watching multiple security checkpoints for hours and claim they are waiting for someone. There is nothing to stop someone doing surveillance work from buying a ticket then passing through security multiple times in a single day on that same boarding pass (much like how experienced airport thieves operate). Photographs of security procedures creates a static image, while careful observation and testing the system is more fluid and often undetectable, which poses a more significant security risk and returns a more significant piece of data to someone who is interested in created a diagram of how the system works.

For all your traveling photographers out there who may experience problems while photographing in the vicinity of a TSA security checkpoint, I encourage you to read this entry on the TSA Blog : 3.31.2009 Can I Take Photos at the Checkpoint and Airport?

Happy Flying!

Pingbacks

  1. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  2. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  3. […] When you are stopped at an airport for photography, more often than not law enforcement, the airport authority, or other airline & airport personnel rather than the TSA is stopping you.   At times the TSA may stop a photographer from shooting photos at their check points … however shooting photos of TSA checkpoints is not only allowed, it has been publicly announced by the TSA. […]

  4. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren’t many answers to the frequently asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  5. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  6. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren’t many answers to the frequently asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  7. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  8. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  9. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  10. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  11. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  12. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  13. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  14. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  15. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  16. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  17. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

  18. […] • Frequently Asked Questions about the United States Transportation     Security Administration [Unfortunately there aren't many answers to the frequently     asked questions.] • Photography is Not a Crime, by Carlos Miller • War On Photography • Article: Do You Own a Computer, Cellphone, Car, Camera or Backpack? Then you     may be a terrorist • 2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched, Metropolitan Police in     the United Kingdom • Poster: Thousands of People Take Photos Every Day, report it to the Metropolitan     Police. PDF file. • Metro Police Parody: If you suspect it – report it, by Adriana Lukas • Metro Police Parody: Don’t Rely On Others. If You Suspect It, Report It, by Abu Eesa • Article: Photography & TSA Airport Security Checkpoints…Its OK! […]

Comments

  1. Since when did TSA regulations make sense anyways. Take the liquid law – why is there a size limit? What stops people combining stuff after passing through security.

  2. I took TSA “Blogger Bob” Burns’ suggestion and used TSA’s “Got Feedback?” program to request specific policies at 50 U.S. airports. About half of them have responded. I’m documenting everything on FlyerTalk Forums. There, you’ll find an [index][1] of all airport responses and a [list][2] of responses that are of particular concern (generally, because they indicate the likelihood that people will be harassed by airport staff, TSA, or police, for photographing things that thousands of people can see).

    References:

    [1]: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/938543-pv-alert-can-i-take-photos-checkpoint-airport-post11507668.html#post11507668
    [2]: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/938543-pv-alert-can-i-take-photos-checkpoint-airport-post11545668.html#post11545668

  3. Phil,

    I have been following your correspondences and responses on FlyerTalk (http://www.flyertalk.com).

    We all know that nothing goes smoothly when tested, however I am happy that the TSA did post an officially policy on photography of screening areas.

    Happy Flying!

    -Fish

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