Saturday, September 22, 2007

But Can They Track Lost Luggage?

Did you have a good summer vacation? If your trip took you outside the US, the Bush administration was on your tail. It doesn't matter how you traveled. Even if you took a cruise with Mickey Mouse on a Disney ship, our government was watching you. They know where you went, how long you stayed, what you took with you and what you brought back. And Homeland Security can hold onto that information for up to 15 years.

The WaPo is reporting about individuals who filed suit to see just which bits of our private information are being collected and stored by the Bush administration. They include John Gilmore, whose obtained file included a reference to the book he was reading, "Drugs and Your Rights." Said Gilmore, "My first reaction was I kind of expected it. My second reaction was, that's illegal."

The records requested and obtained by the Identity Project show some of YOUR information that is being collected: where you went, your profession, your associates, your race, "names, addresses and credit-card information, as well as telephone and e-mail contact details, itineraries, hotel and rental car reservations, and even the type of bed requested in a hotel." Although a DHS spokesman declared they were not interested in which Tom Clancy novel people were reading, the reports show otherwise. Then again, maybe if it was a Tom Clancy novel, they wouldn't mind. Be sure to hide your non-right-wing literature in a Clancy dust jacket!

From a link on IP's website: "The individual travel reservation (PNR) data information is pulled in its entirety by DHS rather than filtered and then pushed by the airlines. This means that a tremendous amount of highly personal information is vacuumed-up by the US government, analyzed, and stored. While DHS' Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states that flight records will be destroyed within days of the completion of travel, they say they will store the travel details of 'suspected terrorists' for decades. TSA defines all Americans as 'suspects', and will therefore never destroy any travel data collected. The sensitive information contained in an individual PNR vacuumed-up by DHS includes the telephone numbers of both the American and the number given to the airlines while abroad for contact if the flight is cancelled."

It will be interesting to see how this case develops, since DHS Trip doesn't permit travelers to challenge the agency decisions in court. Because, of course, the DHS Trip system is EXEMPTED from certain Privacy Act requirements.

Enjoy that next trip overseas.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Mark said...

You forgot the best part. Our tax dollars are paying for this.

3:44 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Consider the bells that would go off if twenty people boarded a plane and all were reading 1984.

5:15 PM  

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