November 18, 2013 14 Comments
The latest invention for controlling a population in transit: meet the TSA-approved “exit portal,” or, as some call it, the “detention pod.” These little devices are installed at the exits to the secure area of the terminal and use an airlock-like system where you enter the first door, the first door closes, and then the second door opens. Syracuse Airport is the first to give them a try
The airport claims that this is so the exits can’t be used as an entrance, thus saving them the $11/hour that they used to pay to have a security guard make sure no one goes the wrong way. It’s unclear how much the portals cost and how many thousands of hours of a security guard’s salary it cost to buy them. It’s also unclear why they would use these machines instead of a pretty ordinary one-way turnstile or, as some airports already use, entirely unobtrusive sensors that detect when someone is walking in the wrong direction and sound an alarm.
What *is* clear is that these devices represent another opportunity for the TSA to violate the public. Perhaps the TSA sees you walking through the terminal and determines that you’re suspicious or. you know, your credit score wasn’t good enough. They can then lock you inside these machines for “additional screening.” What happens if there is a fire, or another terminal shooting, and people need to exit immediately? Surely there’s an “emergency mode” where the portals simply open, but does it work if the portal controller is on fire?
The TSA comes up with an impressive quantity of bad ideas. Be sure to let Syracuse Airport know that you don’t appreciate their support of this one.