If you’re traveling internationally and don’t want to be labeled as a terrorist or drug runner by the secretive (albeit partially dysfunctional and inefficient) Department of Homeland Security (DHS) algorithms, you want to be careful what books and other reading material you bring to read on the plane. Records recently revealed to Wired.com reportedly show that the government has been selectively storing that type of information for years.
The records (the most current of which are from 2004) show that the government routinely records the race of people they pull aside for extra screening when they enter the country as well as the cursory answers given to U.S. border inspectors regarding their purpose for traveling.
One record noted Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) co-founder John Gilmore’s choice of reading material and worry about the number of small flashlights he had packed for his trip. The records contain a lot of sensitive information and it appears that the DHS hasn’t exactly been forthright with U.S. citizens (the DHS has been caught lying more than once).
The Automated Targeting System (ATS) scrutinizes every passenger entering or leaving the country, telling agents who to give extra screening to. Records include airline-record collections and screening records mined for the controversial DHS passenger rating system.