TSA searches are about to get a lot more personal and invasive

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Previously, Transportation Security Administration agents at USA airports had the option of using five different types of physical pat-downs at the screening line, depending on an officer's risk assessment, reports Bloomberg.

The TSA provides more information about the pat-down procedure on its website, stating that pat-downs are always given by officers of the same gender.

The TSA largely "discovered" this in 2015 when it flunked almost 96 percent of tests carried out by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) undercover agents, who managed to smuggle phony bombs and banned weapons onto flights despite the TSA's supposedly rigorous screening procedures.

"Passengers who have not previously experienced the now standardized pat-down screening may not realize that they did in fact receive the correct procedure, and may ask our partners, including law enforcement at the airport, about the procedure".

But it isn't clear just how invasive the new procedure might be. As of March 2, however, they have had only one choice, which TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson told Bloomberg is more "comprehensive" than previous pat-downs. The report said that the new process will not increase airport delays, except for the person being patted-down.

The TSA screens about 2 million people daily at US airports.

A Transportation Security Administration agent performs a pat-down check on an airline passenger at a security checkpoint in terminal four at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The shift from the previous, risk-based assessment on which pat-down procedure an officer should apply was phased in over the past two weeks after tests at smaller airports, Anderson said. For those who trigger the alarm on the imaging scanner, or refuse to walk through, a pat-down becomes a requirement to continue through security. "But TSA screeners failed to detect a fake explosive device that was taped to his back during a follow up pat-down", ABC's Pierre Thomas reported. Those subject to the searches can elect to have the procedure in a private area with one companion, or in public view. The TSA says this is not a new style of pat down. Airport employees may also be subject to additional, random screenings.

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