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Need to report unfair TSA search? There's an app for that

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  May 1, 2012 09:51 AM

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A free mobile application just launched by a Sikh advocacy group will allow airline passengers to submit complaints about unfair treatment due to race, religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, or disability directly to federal regulators.

The Sikh Coalition developed the app, which is available for iPhone and Android devices, in response to complaints from Sikhs in the United States who have complained of being unfairly subjected to additional inspection at TSA checkpoints in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

The FlyRights app was launched at midnight Monday and had received two complaints by 10 a.m.: One from a woman who said she felt mistreated after telling a TSA agent she was carrying breast milk, and the second from a Sikh man who reported being subjected to additional scrutiny even though he had not set off alarms.

TSA, which approved of the app, said in a statement that it does not profile passengers on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion and that it supports "efforts to gather passenger feedback about the screening process."

The release of the app comes as the TSA is facing increasing pressure over reports of its screening practices. There have a been a series of high-profile complaints from women who allege that procedures were too invasive or simply constituted harassment,disabled passengers who say that the agency violated their own rules in their searches, and Latino and African-American passengers who have complained of being unfairly singled out for searches. The Sikh Coalition says it gets hundreds of complaints of questionable treatment and profiling.

Sikh Coalition director Amardeep Singh said that the Department of Homeland Security said in a recent report to Congress that it had received only 11 complaints in the United States during the first six months of 2012.

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