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TSA considers using 'randomizer' when screening travelers

July 14, 2013|By Hugo Martin

In the foreseeable future, fliers can expect to be “randomized” by the Transportation Security Administration.

That means an electronic device called a randomizer would randomly direct travelers to different screening lines.

One reason the devices are needed, federal officials said, is so TSA officers can’t be accused of profiling passengers when they direct some fliers to a line for regular screening and others to a line for a faster, less intrusive search.

In many airports, the TSA operates special screening lines where travelers don’t have to remove their shoes, belts and jackets or take laptops and liquids out of carry-on bags. These lines are usually reserved for frequent fliers who submit an application with their background information.

Passengers who are picked out for extra screening by explosive-sniffing dogs or “behavior detection officers” won’t be allowed to use those faster lines, but the randomizer could sort all other passengers, officials said.

TSA officials would not comment in detail on the randomizer except to say in a statement that the agency “employs a multi-layer approach to security, utilizing measures that are both seen and unseen, and will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures.”

Officials said they didn't yet have an estimate on when the randomizer might appear at airports.

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