Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bloggers Impact Transportation Security Administration

Late last month the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched its Evolution of Security blog to improve communication about TSA policies between travelers and TSA officials. From the Welcome post:

The opportunity is that we will incorporate what we learn in this forum in our checkpoint process evolution. We will not only give you straight answers to your questions but we will challenge you with new ideas and involve you in upcoming changes.
The blog's motto is "Terrorists Evolve. Threats Evolve. Security Must Stay Ahead. You Play a Part."

On Wednesday, the administrators posted a thread titled “Hooray Bloggers!” explaining how the commenters on the blog “had their first official impact on [TSA’s] 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.

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. These practices were stopped on Monday afternoon and blackberrys, cords and iPods began to flow through checkpoints like the booze was flowing on Bourbon Street Tuesday night. (Fat Tuesday of course).
Not all of the feedback, however, has been so helpful. The blog began moderating comments after having received over 700 comments within 24 hours after the first post went up:
In the spirit of transparency, we plan to note how many comments we've rejected and tell you why. Mostly the rejected comments include profane language, political rants or abusive posts that we just can't print, and some are completely off topic. Other than these, every post will go up as written and we will continue to operate this way.
The Chicago Tribune’s Internet Critic posted an “advance copy” of guidelines for the blog, including “Commenters must arrive at the blog 45 minutes before attempting to post a comment,” which you can read here.

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