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TSA promises it won't discriminate based on your reading choices.

June 26, 2017

In addition to taking out laptops and liquids, U.S. air passengers may soon be required to remove all books and paper materials from their carry-on luggage and allow TSA agents to thumb through their contents when passing through security checks.

The update is part of a slew of proposed changes to airport security, including asking passengers to potentially remove all electronics, food, and snacks, the Wall Street Journal reported in May.

TSA tested the new procedures at airports in California, Colorado, and Massachusetts — among others — in May, and the agency is likely to expand the policy nation-wide, Department of Homeland Security chief John Kelly told Fox News Sunday.

“What we’re doing now is working out the tactics, techniques, and procedures, if you will, in a few airports, to find out exactly how to do that with the least amount of inconvenience to the traveler,” Kelly said.

TSA spokespeople did not immediately respond to Travel + Leisure's request for information on the reasoning behind the removal of reading materials.

One agent told WSJ that the thick carbon material in books and magazines can obscure other items within a passenger's carry-on bag, making it more difficult for x-ray scanners to uncover potentially illicit items.

Agents will be also allowed to flip through magazines and books to see if any items are hidden inside. Homeland security has vowed that the TSA is not allowed to make judgments about the content of a passenger's reading material.

The new measure could pose a civil liberties problem, however, and the ACLU was quick to point out that passengers could be unfairly targeted for books of certain religious or political persuasions.

"Given the sensitivity of our reading choices, this raises privacy concerns," wrote Jay Stanley, technology analyst for the ACLU, adding, "Books raise very special privacy issues."

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