If you like your privacy—especially when it comes to what you read!—prepare to get up in arms. Security officials have started checking passengers’ books and other paper items at some airports across the country. Yikes!
“Books raise very special privacy issues,” American Civil Liberties Union Senior Policy Analyst Jay Stanley wrote in a recent blog post. “There is a long history of special legal protection for the privacy of one’s reading habits in the United States, not only through numerous Supreme Court and other court decisions, but also through state laws that criminalize the violation of public library reading privacy or require a warrant to obtain book sales, rental, or lending records.”
News outlets have reported these book screenings at the Sacramento and Kansas City airports, where TSA officers asked passengers to remove books and magazines from their luggage and place them in a separate bin on the conveyer belt. But thankfully, the procedure has stopped in both locations for the time being.
In a statement to TIME, the TSA claims that it only intended to test the protocol, not implement it outright. Since books and magazines tend to block certain parts of the luggage from view in the x-ray machine, removing them would give operators a clearer look inside carry-on baggage at checkpoints. Screeners also flipped through the books and magazines (which sometimes look like explosives under an x-ray machine) but did not check to see what people were reading, TSA official Carrie Harmon told the Sacramento Bee. Although the TSA “collected valuable data” through the tests, they are “no longer testing or instituting these procedures” at this time, they say.
We can all breathe a sigh of relief—for now. But don’t get too comfortable yet! There’s another new security measure on the way, and this one is very, very creepy.