How To Request Your Homeland Security Travel Dosiier

In its efforts to combat terrorism, fight human trafficking, and bust drug dealers, the Department of Homeland Security compiles a large database of where you go, who you travel with, what you read and more. If you’re curious about what this record contains, you can request a copy of your file under the Freedom Of Information Act. Unsecure Flight hosts two form letters for submitting this request, along with instructions for doing so.

Read Your Own DHS Travel Dossier [UnSecure Flight] (Thanks to Bill!)

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  1. MalcoveMagnesia says:

    But will sending in a FOIA request automatically flag me for the anal-rific patdowns at airport security checkpoints from here on out?

  2. mrmysterious says:

    +————-I N S P E C T I O N R E M A R K S——————-+
    Mysterious carries many electronics and always forgets to take off his belt. He had a book entitled “Into the Wild”.

  3. RandomHookup says:

    I’m just wondering how they have time to capture this information. Seems that too much is going on for the inspector to stop, match up your name with ticket and make notes. Maybe this comes from secondary inspections or check bag searches?

  4. davere says:

    @MalcoveMagnesia: That was my first thought as well. And how sad that is. I’m intimidated of exercising my rights.

  5. Major-General says:

    Can’t be any worse than getting the four S’s because the screener at LAX can’t give you instructions. It took me a year to burn that off. Of course it helped I flew the same airline to the same destination.

  6. Groovymarlin says:

    That’s “dossier,” btw.

    Does anyone know if I file a FOIA request like that, if it actually triggers more tracking on me, and perhaps creation of one of those mysterious “files” with the FBI or something?

  7. zolielo says:

    @MalcoveMagnesia: I have nothing to do with this. But when I see my coworkers get such requests, it does anger them, and in turn can bring extra eyes where one would prefer no one look.

  8. zolielo says:

    For example a person requested a copy of their files and through some coordination with another agency it was found that they are committing government aid fraud.

    Darn lack of details… It is a neat story, really.

  9. Parting says:

    @MalcoveMagnesia

    That’s truth, if you are just an average citizen, you probably don’t have any file (besides DOB and address).

    If you request your file, well, Homeland Security will look very close at you to write one. And you better not have a ”dark past” in this case.

    p.s. Dark past : pretty much everything, including smocking pot in college, unpaid traffic tickets, etc.

  10. castlecraver says:

    Why the hell would you want to do this? If you’re not a terrorist, you should have no reason to worry about or even want to know what the gov’t knows about you.

    (/sarcasm)

  11. krom says:

    Why would I need to get this information? I already know where I fly and who I travel with. In today’s post-911 world the government has good reason to keep track of what its people are doing on airline flights, and I don’t need to know what the government knows about me.

    …ok, ok, i’ll stop trolling.

  12. krom says:

    :P @ castlecraver.

  13. CurbRunner says:

    I read somewhere that this information is gathered on passengers that are selected for the random checks or pulled aside for other suspicious criteria.
    I understand that is impossible to have any erroneous information corrected. When I fly to Costa Rica, I am required to fill out a couple of cards while in flight saying where and who I’ll be staying with and why I’m going there, in addition to a card for Costa Rica immigration officials.
    I imagine these are all scanned and sent to Homeland Security too.

  14. CurbRunner says:

    CASTLECRAVER AT 11:07 AM said:

    “If you’re not a terrorist, you should have no reason to worry about or even want to know what the gov’t knows about you.”

    Castlecarver, here’s your answer:
    [www.smirkingchimp.com] /node/10121/print

  15. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Can you dispute the information on the dossier? If not, you’re still being denied due process anyway….

  16. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Plus the government has NO right to track you unless they have a very good reason and a very valid suspicion. It’s in the law (the constitution, which trumps any and every law that is in conflict with it). But then, with Bush, what is the law?

  17. CurbRunner says:

    IRSISTHEROOTOFALLEVIL AT 12:03 PM said:

    “Plus the government has NO right to track you unless they have a very good reason and a very valid suspicion. It’s in the law (the constitution, which trumps any and every law that is in conflict with it).”

    Sorry about that but the Patriot Act now trumps the Constitution:
    [www.aclu.org] safefree/general/17383leg20030328.html

  18. FLConsumer says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil: Oh, the degradation of the constitution started before then. The FBI’s “carnivore” under the Clinton admin wasn’t exactly kosher by the US Constitution either. I’m sure there were other things further back than that which brought us to where we are today. Citizen apathy being the #1 cause.

  19. s25843 says:

    The FIOA Paperwork here is going to the US Customs. The information on the “Inspection Remarks” was captured at US Customs Secondary Screening at a Port of Entry, NOT the TSA screenings.

  20. Terek Kincaid says:

    Ben really needs to start tagging this stuff under “Tinfoil Hat”. As far as I know, it’s not illegal for the government to keep records. What about criminal records? Birth certificate? Driver’s licenses?

    I’m pretty sure the CIA can’t keep records on Americans (or isn’t supposed to, anyway), but that’s simply because their jurisdiction is by definition outside of the US (despite what you see in movies and books, it’s the FBI’s job to catch spies, not the CIA’s). For any other government agency, it’s perfectly legal to keep track of what you do in public. If I see you with a marijuana leaf lighter and make a note of it, it’s no different. You get filmed everytime you walk into a convenience store. Do you care? Probably not, since you’re not doing anything wrong. Same thing here. If you walk around with pro-drug crap, the cops are going to take a closer look at you. But if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. They aren’t invading your privacy; they aren’t breaking into your home without a warrant to look for stuff. You are in public and they are just noting what they see.

    There are 250 million folks here, and some of them are doing bad things. The government wants to narrow down the suspects. It’s not a crime; it’s smart.

    If you don’t like it, I’ve got a cabin in Montana I’d love to sell you…

  21. That70sHeidi says:

    Man, I get pulled aside for the special search every time I fly. I’m a pudgy white chick! There were far weirder looking folks in line, but noooo, on 8 out of 8 flights (both to and from Tahiti), guess who got pulled? On the four flights I took for Los Angeles, while travelling with my linebacker-size, bearded doof of a brother, who got pulled? Pudgy, 20-something white chick! My file would say something like “Incredibly boring, bad taste in shoes.” Thrillsville.

  22. As far as I know, it’s not illegal for the government to keep records.

    @terekkincaid: Where in the post Ben wrote does it imply that this is illegal? All Ben said is what the government is doing, why, and links to some form letters to help you find out what’s in your file. I don’t think the threads should get tagged based on what’s in the comments.

    @That70sHeidi: I suspect it might be that you’re pudgy and the security people are making sure you aren’t faking being pudgy and are actually hiding something.

    I got pulled aside all of the few times I’ve been to an airport way back in the day (was seeing someone off).

  23. CurbRunner says:

    TEREKKINCAID AT 01:32 PM said:

    “You get filmed everytime you walk into a convenience store. Do you care? Probably not, since you’re not doing anything wrong. Same thing here. If you walk around with pro-drug crap, the cops are going to take a closer look at you. But if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. They aren’t invading your privacy; they aren’t breaking into your home without a warrant to look for stuff. You are in public and they are just noting what they see.

    What you have described here are classic signs of acceptance of the kind of complacency that throughout history has led to fascism if left unchecked or resisted.

    An interesting article by Chris Rowthorn states:
    “When one looks at present-day America and reads plaintive musings about if and when America will turn fascist, it is useful to ask oneself the following question: When do you think the average German realized that he or she was living under a fascist dictatorship? How about the Japanese or Italians of the same period? Do you think that Hitler, Mussolini or Tojo made a public announcement to the effect of, “Dear Citizens: Please be advised that you no longer have any rights or political power. We have taken control of the government. Opposition and resistance are futile and will be punished.
    The fact is, most of the “good” citizens of these countries clung desperately to the notion that it was business as usual long after constitutional government was dead and buried. Sure, they knew that their governments were a little further to the right than normal, but as long as they kept earning money and eating well, they ignored the grim realities of fascism.”

    [www.smirkingchimp.com] /node/10121/print

  24. Terek Kincaid says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    Sorry, yes, I was commenting more on the comments than on the post itself.

    @Curbrunner:
    So what the hell is the government supposed to do? Ignore the drug runners? WTF! Bad guys aren’t going to turn themselves in. You have to catch them. We don’t live in some lovey-dovey utopia full of love and understanding: there are assholes out there, and we have to deal with them.

    When my rights get impinged on, I’ll start making the stink. If you tell me they start locking up Jews because they found dradles in their bags, I’ll start marching with you. But if some pothead gets busted for trying to fly with weed because the cops decided to take a second look at him, good for the cops.

  25. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @terekkincaid: Funny, the usual “drug-sniffing dogs in the airport” thing seemed to be working just fine before this. If they’re only concerned about mules, why can’t they keep doing that?

    See, it’s not that we want them to “[i]gnore the drug runners” — nice straw man there, by the way — it’s that we question the need to record the actions of innocent civilians whose behavior may or may not be judged appropriate by people with preconceived biases about what makes someone “suspicious.”

    Hm. My husband recently traveled cross-country with an African national — wonder if they’re going to flag him for that. I suppose it depends on whether they regard the man’s country of origin as risky.

  26. swalve says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil: In which article of the Constitution can I find that?

  27. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    That you’re entitled to due process, or that it’s the supreme law of the land? By the way “supreme law of the land” aren’t my words, they’re in the constitution. I don’t remember which article…it’s called google. Use it.

  28. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    But then, I’d rather sue DHS for defamation and/or libel.

  29. rhombopteryx says:

    @terekkincaid:
    (and other hopefully sarcastic and not intentional ‘apologists for a surveillance-state’ posters)
    You say “As far as I know, it’s not illegal for the government to keep records”.
    I think people on Consumerist are more interested in the actual law than you admitting you don’t know something. ;)
    It is against the law for this type of surveillance to take place. As the linked Washington Post article helpfully points out, this particular type of airport surveillance and collection have been operating in violation of the Privacy Act, and arguably several amendments to the Constitution, for “more than a decade.”