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5/11/2008 – Ads At TSA Airport Security Checkpoints : Should They Be For Sale?
Over the past year the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has experimented with selling advertising space at 14 airports through out the United States. As this year long advertising experiment concludes, and the TSA moves to roll out this option throughout the United States. I feel this program gives the impression that the United States Government's first line of defense, for the security of those traveling in the United States, is for sale.
The security of the traveling public, which is a serious and challenging task, should not have perception of corporate influence. Many look at this program as something that is not a big deal. The TSA provides ad space, through Security Point Media, on the bottom of the checkpoint personal item bins, as well as on the tops of the tables leading up to the x-ray machine. If security was a private entity, or if it was owned by the airport authority, I would not give the advertising scheme a second thought.......but its not, security is maintained by the United States Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration.
Given that security is a branch of the Federal Government, under the Department of Homeland Security, I believe there should be no mixing security with ad revenue. Under the TSA's current advertising sales scheme the advertisers purchase the bins, bin carts and tables for the TSA. In trade for purchasing these items, the company secures the advertising rights to the tables and the bins.
This may be seen as a 'donation,' such as a volunteer fire department having a small sticker on a truck that reads, "This ambulance donated by XYZ Corp." In other situations this may be seen as a way for a corporation to try and gain political leverage though their financial contribution to a specific federal agency.
The TSA has shown that it has a long way to go in making sure loop holes in security are closed up and that the agency has a genuine interest in securing the traveling public. Diverting its efforts to a program that is counter productive to its image, as well as offering no benefit to security, should be rethought and revisited once the agency has its security issues under control.
What will be next? Will we see ads on passport control stations, and Custom's inspection tables, operated by the Department of Homeland Security's Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Officers?
Security must not only be secure, but it must also give the pure appearance there is no impropriety.