As we learned a couple of weeks ago, the Transportation Security Administration does not have a specific ban on photography inside airports.
That, of course, doesn’t prevent TSA officials from making up their own laws.
A man who goes by Villagechief on Flyer Talk describes how he came across some type of altercation at Chicago O’Hare International Airport this weekend where a group of men were trying to subdue another man for reasons unknown.
Villegachief did what many of us would do in that situation; he pulled out a video camera and started filming.
A TSA official immediately confronted him and ordered him to stop filming.
He said he stopped filming but then started again until a woman saw him and snitched on him.
According to O’Hare’s policies that they list on their website, ”passengers may not film in or around any of the security checkpoints at O’Hare.”
Villagechief says he was nowhere near a checkpoint, but near gate B9.
Confirming that the TSA has no policy forbidding photography inside airports is a guy named Blogger Bob who runs the TSA blog (you learn something every day):
We don’t prohibit public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping, or filming at screening locations. You can take pictures at our checkpoints as long as you’re not interfering with the screening process or slowing things down. We also ask that you do not film or take pictures of our monitors.
While it’s highly unlikely that your average TSA goon would know who Blogger Bob is, it might not hurt to print that page out and carry it with you next time you travel.
I received the following email from Villagechief, whose real name is Sanjay Patel, which further confirms there is no TSA ban on photography inside airports.
Owen Winder a Customer Security Manager for TSA at Ohare called me a few minutes ago. He was instructed by the Federal Security Director at the airport to call me and communicate that, indeed, I was within my rights to film the incident.
Also, he communicated that the officer did not have the authority to demand that I stop filming. Mr. Winder did see the footage on youtube and expressed that the purpose of surveillance and other filming only protects the parties involved.
The employee that told me to stop filming will be spoken to and “re-educated” on the specific issue.
Owen Winder was very professional and clearly stated that I was within my rights. His number is 773-377-1215 for reference.