April 30th, 2012
05:26 PM ET
By Arielle Hawkins, CNN
The Sikh Coalition, a civil rights advocacy group, on Monday released a mobile application on iPhones and Android phones giving passengers who feel they've been racially or religiously profiled a way to speak out against screeners with the Transportation Security Administration.
The free mobile app, FlyRights, prompts disgruntled passengers with questions and allows them to quickly check the basis on which they feel they've been discriminated, then name the airport where the incident occurred, the airline and the flight number.
The complaints are then forwarded to the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security.
The passenger can also include the badge number of the TSA agent they believe profiled them and then write a brief summary of what took place. The questionnaire also prompts the passengers for information they might not have thought of, such as potential witnesses.
The developers of the app say the goal is to make the process of filing complaints easier so that people will actually do it when they feel they've been wronged.
FlyRights was launched at midnight, and it already had two complaints by midmorning.
"FlyRights app will help us tell the government that profiling is still a reality for community members and is going to be an invaluable tool towards the efforts calling for TSA to institute measures to stop such discrimination," said Priya Murthy, spokeswoman for the South Asian Americans Leading Together, a civil rights group.
The TSA says it is committed to treating each traveler with dignity and respect throughout the screening process. Passengers who have concerns can speak to a TSA supervisor, submit a complaint online or file a civil rights complaint.
"TSA does not profile passengers on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion," said Sterling Payne, TSA spokesman.
Amardeep Singh, with the Sikh Coalition, told reporters at a news conference, "The TSA to their credit will always say, 'We don't profile. Profiling is wrong, and it's counterproductive.' The problem is that, in our estimation, the TSA has way too long a leash on their screeners. So they're getting to have their cake and eat it, too. They can say don't profile, but they take no effective measures to prevent it."
The app developers hope the mobile technology will subsequently lead to applications for school bullying and employment discrimination.
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