Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Peek at Homeland Security’s Files on Travelers

January 7th, 2009

HAHA This guy was surprised that his DHS file noted the IPs from which his ticket purchasing sessions occurred???

* Pfft! * He should ask Them to send over his MAIN CORE file and see how well that goes.

Via: Newsweek:

The oversize white envelope bore the blue logo of the Department of Homeland Security. Inside, I found 20 photocopies of the government’s records on my international travels. Every overseas trip I’ve taken since 2001 was noted.

I had requested the files after I had heard that the government tracks “passenger activity.” Starting in the mid-1990s, many airlines handed over passenger records. Since 2002, the government has mandated that the commercial airlines deliver this information routinely and electronically.

A passenger record typically includes the name of the person traveling, the name of the person who submitted the information while arranging the trip, and details about how the ticket was bought, according to documents published by the Department of Homeland Security. Records are made for citizens and non-citizens who cross our borders. An agent from U.S. Customs and Border Protection can generate a travel history for any traveler with a few keystrokes on a computer. Officials use the information to prevent terrorism, acts of organized crime, and other illegal activity.

I had been curious about what’s in my travel dossier, so I made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a copy. I’m posting here a few sample pages of what officials sent me.

My biggest surprise was that the Internet Protocol (I.P.) address of the computer used to buy my tickets via a Web agency was noted. On the first document image posted here, I’ve circled in red the I.P. address of the computer used to buy my pair of airline tickets.

[An I.P. address is assigned to every computer on the Internet. Each time that computer sends an e-mail—or is used to make a purchase via a Web browser—it has to reveal its I.P. address, which tells its geographic location.]

The rest of my file contained details about my ticketed itineraries, the amount I paid for tickets, and the airports I passed through overseas. My credit card number was not listed, nor were any hotels I’ve visited. In two cases, the basic identifying information about my traveling companion (whose ticket was part of the same purchase as mine) was included in the file. Perhaps that information was included by mistake.

Some sections of my documents were blacked out by an official. Presumably, this information contains material that is classified because it would reveal the inner workings of law enforcement.

I have grayed out other parts of the documents because they contain information, such as my passport number, that I’d rather not share. The parts I’ve blocked out are colored gray to distinguish from the government censor’s black marker.

Related posts:

  1. Travelers: Homeland Security is Googling You
  2. Department of Homeland Security Wants Fingerprints Taken from Foreign Travelers as They Leave the U.S.
  3. U.S. Requires Visitors from Visa Waiver Countries to Register on Department of Homeland Security Website Prior to Travel
  4. Homeland Security Wants to X-Ray Your Car… With You in It
  5. New Homeland Security Magic 8 Ball Removes Terrorists Fast! Now with 100% More WTF?