Sep 062011
 
 September 6, 2011  Breaches, Court, Surveillance, U.S.

Mike Masnick writes:

Amy Alkon is an advice columnist and blogger who is just one of many people who has had a horrifying and traumatizing experience going through airport security lately. After being pulled aside for an “enhanced” search, she found the process to be so invasive and so in violation of her own rights that she was left sobbing. She wrote about the experience on her blog, noting that she didn’t think the search was just “invasive” in the emotional sense, but flat out physically invasive

[…]

After investigating whether or not she could file sexual assault charges, and being told that this was probably a non-starter, she instead wrote about the experience, and named the TSA agent who she dealt with: Thedala Magee. Alkon felt that if people can’t stop these kinds of searches, they should at least be able to name the TSA agents who are doing them.

Magee responded by lawyering up and threatening Alkon with defamation and asking for $500,000 and the removal of the blog post.

Alkon, with the help of lawyer Marc Randazza, has now responded, refusing to back down.

Read more on techdirt, where you will find copies of the legal threat letter and Randazza’s response.

Not surprisingly, I am glad that Ms Alkon is not backing down. From both a privacy perspective and a free speech perspective, I think she had every right to describe what sounds like a devastating experience. Is it defamatory to describe a TSA search that involved penetration as “rape?” I don’t think so and I don’t think that any jury of women would disagree with her, either. If the TSA agent doesn’t like being named and shamed, then maybe she should not be so aggressive in her searches (assuming, for now, that Ms. Alkon was truthful in her claims) or she should just quit that job.

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