Letter from a Passenger: The Question of Photography in Security Areas

Max wrote in:

At the C-2 checkpoint at EWR in the U.S., I saw a sign I had not seen anywhere before. It said (and I’m paraphrasing):

“Some screening procedures at this checkpoint are not allowed to be photographed or videotaped. Please cease photography if requested by a TSA Officer.” (bolding mine)

Have you seen this before? Is this new? I’m rather disturbed at the INTENTIONALLY VERY MISLEADING wording that implies, but does not actually state, that a) photography at the checkpoint is prohibited, and b) a TSA screener has the authority to make you stop filming. This out-of-control behavior on the part of TSA screeners must be stopped.


Dear Max,

I get a lot of e-mail from people who were treated unfairly by airport security owing simply to perfectly legal photographs they’d taken. In my many years working for the TSA, I can tell you this: The only thing that is “strictly prohibited” or whatever is direct photographs of security equipment. So, if you took a photograph of an X-Ray machine’s screen, for instance, and the TSA witnessed you doing so, the TSA would have the “right” to call law enforcement officials and escalate the situation to a point where you could find yourself under questioning as to whether you were trying to glean “Sensitive Security Information” from the agency. Anything less than you outright photographing an X-Ray screen or the pried-open innards of a full-body scanner, and TSA has no right to do a damn thing.


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