Saturday, February 26, 2011

TSA Testing DNA? No way!


***Update 3/4/2011*** Even though we posted on this Saturday shortly after the rumors started to spread, many have still been incorrectly reporting that TSA was going to collect DNA samples from passengers this summer. Media Matters took this story on, and as of this morning, FOX news issued an on-air apology for misreporting the story. ***

 TSA is not testing and has no plans to use any technology capable of testing DNA.


An article was posted to "The Daily" today with the misleading headline "Genetic Patdown." Even more misleading, the first sentence leads off with the mention of airport scanners. So obviously, even though the rest of the article says nothing about airports or TSA, some readers naturally assumed this was a new technology that would be heading to the airports and the tweets went wild. It didn't help that "tsa-scanner" was included in the URL.


The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is doing preliminary testing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who already uses DNA testing in some cases to establish familial relationships in refugee processing.


DHS S&T expects to receive a prototype DNA analyzer device this summer to conduct a preliminary evaluation of whether this kind of technology could be considered for future use. At this time, there are no DHS customers, nor is there a timeline for deployment, for this kind of technology - this is a simply a preliminary test of how the technology performs.


Again, TSA is not testing and has no plans to use any technology capable of testing DNA.


Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.


Screening of Passengers at Savannah Amtrak Station

A video of Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) screening passengers at a Savannah, Georgia Amtrak station has been gaining quite a bit of attention and many are wondering why we were screening passengers who had just disembarked from a train.

We were wondering the same thing.

The screening shown in the video was done in conjunction with a VIPR operation. During VIPR operations, any person entering the impacted area has to be screened. In this case, the Amtrak station was the subject of the VIPR operation so people entering the station were being screened for items on the Amtrak prohibited items list as seen in the video.

It should be noted that disembarking passengers did not need to enter the station to claim luggage or get to their car.

Signs such as the one shown here are posted at the entrance to the impacted area. 

TSA SignageHowever, after looking into it further, we learned that this particular VIPR operation should have ended by the time these folks were coming through the station since no more trains were leaving the station. We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused for those passengers.

So by now, you're probably wondering what a VIPR is? Is it a type of snake that we misspelled? A really cool car... Nope. It's a team that's made up of Federal Air Marshals, Surface Transportation Security Inspectors, Transportation Security Officers, Behavior Detection Officers and Explosive Detection Canine teams. The teams provide a random high-visibility surge into a transit system and work with state and local security, and law enforcement officials to expand the unpredictability of security measures to detect, deter, disrupt or defeat potential criminal and/or terrorist operations.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team


If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.