The TSA Has Your Reading List

According to the Washington Post, the TSA is compiling extensive traveler records that can track passenger reading preferences. The Automated Targeting System is ostensibly designed to help officials ferret out terrorists; citizens who recently asked the government for records of their travel found that the databases also contains: “a description of a book on marijuana that one of them carried and small flashlights bearing the symbol of a marijuana leaf.” Our government’s long maw even reaches abroad to gather information on flights that don’t brush against U.S. airspace.

Ann Harrison, the communications director for a technology firm in Silicon Valley who was among those who obtained their personal files and provided them to The Post, said she was taken aback to see that her dossier contained data on her race and on a European flight that did not begin or end in the United States or connect to a U.S.-bound flight.

“It was surprising that they were gathering so much information without my knowledge on my travel activities, and it was distressing to me that this information was being gathered in violation of the law,” she said.

James P. Harrison, director of the Identity Project and Ann Harrison’s brother, obtained government records that contained another sister’s phone number in Tokyo as an emergency contact. “So my sister’s phone number ends up being in a government database,” he said. “This is a lot more than just saying who you are, your date of birth.”

That explains how the TSA knows you’re gay.

Collecting of Details on Travelers Documented [Washington Post]
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)