Feb 102011
 

Last week, I noticed that Harrisburg International Airport was soliciting aviation-related questions via Twitter:

@HIAairport : Got an aviation-related question? Ask away!

Fri Feb 04 18:00:41 +0000 2011 from TweetDeck

“Great,” I thought, “I have lots of aviation-related questions.”

I asked several questions, but I was using a flaky mobile phone browser, and only one of them, about airport security cameras, made it to Twitter:

@pmocek : @HIAairport Who operates airport surveillance cameras? TSA, police, airport authority?

Fri Feb 04 18:17:19 +0000 2011 from Mobile Web

Their answer came promptly:

@HIAairport : @pmocek depends on the facility, but at #MDT, they are operated by our police department.

Fri Feb 04 18:21:27 +0000 2011 from TweetDeck

Next, I asked about passenger identification requirements:

@pmocek : @HIAairport Under what if any circumstances are people legally required to present documentation of identity at the arport? By what law?

Fri Feb 04 18:32:07 +0000 2011 from Mobile Web

They responded, but instead of answering my question, referred me to the TSA Web site:

@HIAairport : @pmocek Review the TSA policies for required ID here: http://bit.ly/35ZvnT

Fri Feb 04 18:38:40 +0000 2011 from TweetDeck

They referenced a page on TSA’s Web site titled “ID Requirements for Airport Checkpoints” which, paradoxically, states both that adult passengers are required to show ID:

Effective June 21, 2008, adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID that contains the following: name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and a tamper-resistant feature in order to be allowed to go through the checkpoint and onto their flight.

and that doing so is optional:

Passengers who do not or cannot present an acceptable ID will have to provide information to the Transportation Security Officer performing Travel Document Checking duties in order to verify their identity.  Passengers who are cleared through this process may be subject to additional screening. Passengers whose identity cannot be verified by TSA may not be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint or onto an airplane.

As I’ve previously documented, such misinformation about airline passenger identification policies is typical of TSA.  Their “MyTSA” mobile Web application still states that adult passengers are required to show ID (without explaining alternatives, as the aforementioned page does):

All passengers 18 and over will need one of the following to go through security.

  • U.S. State-Issued Driver’s License or Photo Identity Card Issued by DMV
  • U.S. Passport Card
  • U.S. or Foreign Government-Issued Passport
  • U.S. Military ID
  • U.S. Permanent Resident Card
  • DHS Trusted Traveler Card
  • A Native American Tribal Photo ID
  • Border Crossing Card
  • Canadian Provincial Driver’s License
  • Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Card

I responded by asking my question again and asking them to reconcile the contradictory information to which they referred me:

@pmocek : @HIAairport I asked about the law at your airport not for a Web page. What if any law req's people to present ID docs at your airport?

Fri Feb 04 18:55:41 +0000 2011 from web

@pmocek : @HIAairport TSA page you cited says no ID required. MyTSA webapp says it's required. Can *you* reconcile these? How should the public do so?

Fri Feb 04 18:56:26 +0000 2011 from web

They did not respond.

I asked more questions:

@pmocek : @HIAairport Is photography or videotaping prohibited in any public areas of your airport? By what law?

Fri Feb 04 18:57:11 +0000 2011 from web

@pmocek : @HIAairport Are your security guards federal employees?

Fri Feb 04 18:57:24 +0000 2011 from web

@pmocek : @HIAairport Are your security guards law enforcement officers?

Fri Feb 04 18:57:37 +0000 2011 from web

@pmocek : @HIAairport Can your security guards issue lawful orders (i.e., legally compel someone to do something)?

Fri Feb 04 18:58:01 +0000 2011 from web

@pmocek : @HIAairport Do your security guards have the power to detain? To arrest?

Fri Feb 04 18:58:20 +0000 2011 from web

@pmocek : @HIAairport Can someone depart your airport via commercial air without having his movement tracked by US government?

Fri Feb 04 18:58:52 +0000 2011 from web

@pmocek : @HIAairport Must someone request and receive permission from US government to travel via air from your airport to another US state?

Fri Feb 04 18:59:15 +0000 2011 from web

@pmocek : @HIAairport Are people guaranteed the right to transit through the navigable airspace by federal law?

Fri Feb 04 19:00:07 +0000 2011 from web

@pmocek : @HIAairport Are people guaranteed the right to fly by international treaty?

Fri Feb 04 19:00:29 +0000 2011 from web

@pmocek : @HIAairport Do your airport security cameras record images of TSA screening equipment? Of TSA monitors?

Fri Feb 04 19:02:32 +0000 2011 from web

@pmocek : @HIAairport Are images captured by your airport security cameras available via public records request?

Fri Feb 04 19:02:51 +0000 2011 from web

They responded to only one of those questions.  Instead of answering, they informed me of where public records requests can be filed:

@HIAairport : @pmocek open records request can be filed here: http://bit.ly/etSWvA

Fri Feb 04 19:07:08 +0000 2011 from TweetDeck

I thanked them, then repeated my unanswered question:

@pmocek : @HIAairport Thanks for the link. Do you know if images captured by your surveillance cameras are subject to your state public records law?

Fri Feb 04 19:34:08 +0000 2011 from web

They asked to take the conversation to e-mail, so I sent them my address:

@HIAairport : @pmocek our response to your inquiry cannot be achieved in 140 characters or less. Do you have an email address we could reach you at?

Fri Feb 04 20:19:27 +0000 2011 from TweetDeck

@pmocek : @HIAairport Most of those 15 Q's can be answered yes/no, but you can reach me at my first name, Phil, at my last name, Mocek, .org. Thanks!

Fri Feb 04 23:21:11 +0000 2011 from web

A couple days later, I received e-mail from Camille Springer, public records officer for Harrisburg International Airport (at SARAA):

Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2011 13:13:58 -0500
From: Camille Springer - SARAA
To: Phil Mocek
Cc: Timothy Edwards - SARAA,
    Marshall Stevens - SARAA
Subject: Inquiries via Twitter

Your inquiries sent via twitter have been forwarded to me, as the
Open Records Officer for the Susquehanna Regional Airport
Authority ("SARAA"). SARAA complies with the Pennsylvania Right to
Know Law ("the Act") regarding the disclosure of public records.
Information regarding the Act is available on our website
(www.flyhia.com <outbind://17/www.flyhia.com> ). We do not
view your inquiries via twitter to be a request for public records
under the Act, and consequently, this response shall not be
considered a formal response under the Act.

Regarding your specific inquiries, general information regarding
federal security and screening at airports, including Harrisburg
International Airport, is available from the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA). Specific information regarding
airport security details is not subject to public disclosure. In
addition, SARAA does not provide legal guidance to the public on
aviation, security or other issues.

Camille Springer
Executive Assistant
Open Records Officer
Notary Public
Harrisburg International Airport
Phone:  (717) 948-3900, ext. 4642
Fax:  (717) 9487-3870
email:  camilles@saraa.org <mailto:camilles@saraa.org>

I responded:

Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2011 13:43:09 -0800
From: Phil Mocek
To: Camille Springer - Harrisburg International Airport Open Records Officer
Cc: Timothy Edwards - Harrisburg International Airport,
    Marshall Stevens - Harrisburg International Airport
Subject: Re: Inquiries via Twitter

On Tue, Feb 08, 2011 at 01:13:58PM -0500, Springer, Camille wrote:
> Your inquiries sent via twitter have been forwarded to me, as
> the Open Records Officer for the Susquehanna Regional Airport
> Authority ("SARAA").

Thank you for responding.

> We do not view your inquiries via twitter to be a request for
> public records under the Act, and consequently, this response
> shall not be considered a formal response under the Act.

Understood and agreed.

You've not answered any of my questions.  Can you recommend
someone who is able and willing to do so?

The questions I asked via Twitter were:

 1. Under what, if any, circumstances are people legally required
    to present documentation of identity at the airport?

 2. If people are legally required to present documentation of
    identity at the airport, what law requires such?

 3. Is photography or videotaping prohibited in any public areas
    of your airport?

 4. If photography or videotaping is prohibited in any public area
    of your airport, what law prohibits it?

 5. Are your security guards federal employees?

 6. Are your security guards law enforcement officers?

 7. Can your security guards issue lawful orders (i.e., legally
    compel someone to do something)?

 8. Do your security guards have the power to detain?

 9. Do your security guards have the power to arrest?

10. Can someone depart your airport via commercial air without
    having his movement tracked by the U.S. government?

11. Must someone request and receive permission from the U.S.
    government in order to travel via air from your airport to
    another U.S. state?

12. Are people guaranteed the right to transit through the
    navigable airspace by federal law?

13. Are people guaranteed the right to fly by international
    treaty?

14. Do your airport security cameras record images of TSA
    "screening equipment"?

15. Do your airport security cameras record images of TSA computer
    monitors?

16. Are images captured by your airport security cameras available
    via public records request?

> Specific information regarding airport security details is not
> subject to public disclosure.

Which, if any, answers to the 16 questions above do you consider
to be specific information regarding airport security details?

--
Phil Mocek
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 10:52:30 -0500
From: Camille Springer - SARAA
To: Phil Mocek
Cc: Timothy Edwards - SARAA
        Marshall Stevens - SARAA
Subject: RE: Inquiries via Twitter

Mr. Mocek:

I repeat my earlier response to you:

"Regarding your specific inquiries, general information regarding
federal security and screening at airports, including Harrisburg
International Airport, is available from the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA). Specific information regarding
airport security details is not subject to public disclosure.   In
addition, SARAA does not provide legal guidance to the public on
aviation, security or other issues."

I am now considering this matter closed.

Camille Springer
Executive Assistant
Open Records Officer
Notary Public
Harrisburg International Airport
Phone:  (717) 948-3900, ext. 4642
Fax:  (717) 9487-3870
email:  camilles@saraa.org

So that’s that. I asked simple questions that MDT staff should be able to answer, but they’ve stonewalled. I guess I’ll have to file a bunch of public records requests in order to find answers. Please leave any related suggestions in the comments.

Harrisburg International Airport staff solicit questions then refuse to answer them by Phil Mocek, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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  2 Responses to “Harrisburg International Airport staff solicit questions then refuse to answer them”

  1. Have you asked the same questions of the Port of Seattle regarding SeaTac?

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