A rare peek at Homeland Security's files on travelers
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.
A rare peek at Homeland Security’s files on travelers | War On You