On November 3, 2011, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Special Counselor Kimberly Walton hosted a teleconference with members of several organizations representing Jewish and Muslim organizations. Participants included representatives from the Islamic Society of North America, Agudath Israel of America, Talmudic Schools/Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Orthodox Union.
Participants discussed the advancements TSA has made in security screening in the past year, in particular advancements to better safeguard travelers' privacy concerns. The discussion focused on the advances made to Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), which now includes software known as Automated Target Recognition (ATR). ATR addresses many privacy concerns by displaying a generic figure of an individual during the screening process. The discussion also reinforced the fact that use of AIT is voluntary and that passengers may opt-out, which would then require them to undergo a pat-down screening.
"These engagement opportunities allow TSA to develop a better understanding of the needs of the traveling public, and give them opportunity to better understand the requirements for security screening," said Special Counselor Kimberly Walton. "We look forward to a continued dialogue with these groups as TSA's screening procedures continue to evolve into a more intelligence-driven, risk based approach."
Walton also discussed the enhancements currently being made to the screening process through the risk-based security initiative. She highlighted new procedures that reduce, though not eliminate, pat-downs of passengers 12 and under that would otherwise been conducted to resolve alarms while also ensuring effective security measures. Passengers 12 and under are now also able to leave their shoes on through security checkpoints.
During the teleconference, the participants thanked TSA for listening to and addressing the concerns of the community.