Why Would TSA Want to Compromise Your Identity?

Another great adventure with the brave men and women from the TSA. They are here to make your travel safe(r). That’s at least what they claim to do. The agency has failed massive tests recently, were testers were able to get “dangerous” items past security.

Hartmann Passport Cover

Hartmann Passport Cover

Today I had a wonderful encounter again with these great people. I just recently got a passport cover to protect my passport, which is my lifeline. The passport already had some wear on the outside. This was the reason for me to get a cover. Another reason was to protect my identity from theft. You probably think, how can a passport cover protect my identity. If the passport is stolen, no cover can protect you.

Welcome to the digital age, my friends. The newer passports have now chips inside which will transmit your information wireless to receivers. Besides all the information you can see on the ID page of the passport, including the picture, there are also your fingerprints stored on this chip.

Passport

Passport (c) Bundesdruckerei

There is even an Android app out there, which lets you read the information on your passport. The only thing you need is an NFC-capable smartphone. The app is just a proof of concept and you can’t actually steal other people’s information or read the pictures and fingerprints stored on the chip. However, it gives you a feeling of how easy it is.

Now I got a passport cover and went to my first flight with it. Check-In was no problem. But as soon as I handed over my passport to the TSA agent at the security checkpoint, he started to yank out my passport. When I put my passport in my cover it was a very tight fit. This is probably because it’s made for US passports and not for EU once, which have a thicker cover.

I asked him if he really has to pull it out. His response was: “I have to check if the front is legit”. Now I thought if I am able to fake the actually ID page of the passport with all its built-in security features, why shouldn’t I be able to fake a simple piece of cardboard? I couldn’t come up with any answer myself! By taking it out he also damaged the pages slightly where they are bound to the cover. If the passport brakes or wear out faster in the future, who will pay for it? TSA? They will, of course, deny all claims.

Sample of the passport ID page.

A sample of the passport ID page. (c) Bundesdruckerei

The agent also told me, that I can put it in the cover when I store it after traveling. Well, then I don’t have to get any cover for the passport at all. I can put it anywhere safely. Even wrap it in aluminum foil. Another great idea brought to you by the TSA. If I have to squeeze the passport every time I travel in and out of a cover, I can get rid of the cover. This makes it just worse and increases wear and tear, especially if you fly a lot.

TSA website after you try to submit a complaint

TSA website after you try to submit a complaint

Also every time he takes the passport out, there is a possibility of having your identity compromised. But well what do I know. These guys are from “The TSA”. The one and only in the world.

After that, I tried to contact TSA online and when I tried to hit the submit button I got the “You don’t have access to this page”. We all should adopt this way of getting rid of unwanted complaints. Just send your customers to your website and pretend your website is faulty 😉

In the form you have to fill out, they ask you for the state in which the incident occurred and then for the airport. You select your state first and then the next list brings you to a list of all airports in the U.S., not just the state you selected above. Being at the same time in two different places is not invented yet, at least not for us consumers 😉

 

This reminds me about the leaked documents how TSA Behavior Detection officers determine if you are a terrorist or not.

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