So a user asks:

How do I minimize the chances of TSA agents confisticating liquids larger than 3 ounces?

on Travel.SE.

Now, if the TSA rules are legally binding, aren't they essentially asking about breaking the law? And if so, should we close it, and under what category?

Aside: Does anyone know if the TSA rules on liquids are legally binding?

edit - ignoring any misgivings you have about the TSA, please ;)

FURTHER EDIT - note above - this is not just about the TSA, it's what to do when someone asks about breaking the law on SE sites.

  • 5
    TSA is not a legit outfit.
    – random
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:05
  • that's not really the question...
    – Mark Mayo
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:06
  • 5
    Can't break a law if there isn't a law to break
    – random
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:07
  • 2
    yet they have pages like this: tsa.gov/research/laws/regs/… which seem to imply they're a branch of the government with laws...
    – Mark Mayo
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:08
  • 3
    The TSA likes to imply a lot of things
    – random
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:15
  • @random So you're saying that the TSA is not a branch of the government of the USA, which means you're implying the DHS is also not a part of the USA government.
    – Keen
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:19
  • 3
    random♦ is random, guys. I wouldn't read too much into what he says =) Jun 22, 2012 at 20:22
  • 2
    Per this post it sounds like the TSA is basically abusing the regs upon which they base the liquids rule
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:25
  • 1
    @MarkMayo, the TSA has regulations, not laws. There are no crimes that can be committed purely by carrying liquids through security.
    – soandos
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:39
  • Do you have evidence for this? They even head up their page as "Laws" - tsa.gov/research/laws/law_regulation_rule_0010.shtm
    – Mark Mayo
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:40
  • 2
    @MarkMayo, NO ANGENCY for the US gov can pass ANY laws. All any agency (be it the FDIC, SEC, TSA, etc) can do is make regulations. These regulations are limited in scope to the areas that they regulate. The right to pass laws is reserved to the legislative branch (of the states or federal government).
    – soandos
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:50
  • @MarkMayo, the laws that they are referring to on that page are the laws that congress wrote that give them their authority.
    – soandos
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:56

1 Answer 1


Now, if the TSA rules are legally binding, aren't they essentially asking about breaking the law?

Well, maybe. But if you're unsure as to whether or not those rules are legally-binding, much less whether or not they're actually asking how to break them, then chances are they're in the same boat. Closing it doesn't really accomplish anything here, apart from sending someone with a (constructive, probably on-topic) question away empty handed.

If it's illegal, then that's an answer. There should be plenty of sources that can be referenced in this case.

If it's just a bad idea, then an answer explaining why could potentially save someone a lot of headaches.

If it's legitimately possible (even if only in specific circumstances) then that would be very nice to know as well... And again, someone should be able to cite official sources here.

When in doubt, err on the side of helping people, not shutting them down just because their question makes you uncomfortable. And remember, "don't do it" is a valid answer - as long as you explain why.

Note that there are plenty of reasons why your community may decide that they don't want to be involved in answering questions on certain topics, including concerns about projecting an image of lawlessness. This is a decision that should be made by your constituents on your meta.

Note also that some types of content are prohibited by our Content Policy and Terms of Service - generally, you shouldn't get too hung up on these, but be aware that we (Stack Exchange Inc.) may be required to remove posts that violate them.

  • they've not been shut down yet - and certainly we always explain closures. Our policy with borderline cases has been to let the community decide, but now I was starting to wonder...
    – Mark Mayo
    Jun 22, 2012 at 20:59
  • @Mark: Yeah... My best advice is not to get paranoid about this. You're not a lawyer, and you can't possibly be aware of all the different laws that might apply to a given situation worldwide. If there's a reasonable chance that someone is honestly looking for a solution to a real problem they're facing, if it's on-topic, and if it's constructively-asked... Let it be.
    – Shog9
    Jun 22, 2012 at 21:21

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