The Transportation Security Adminstration’s “SPOT” program—recently the subject of a scathing Government Accountability Office critique—does similar data collection about innocent people.
From late May 2004 through August 2008, “behavior detection officers” referred 152,000 travelers to secondary inspection at airports. Of those, TSA agents referred 14,000 people to law enforcement, which resulted in approximately 1,100 arrests. None had links to terrorism or any threat to aviation.
The data TSA collects “when observed behaviors exceed certain thresholds”—that is, when a traveler garners TSA suspicion—includes:
- first, middle, and last names
- aliases and nicknames
- home and business addresses and phone numbers
- employer information
- identification numbers such as Social Security Number, drivers license number or passport number
- date and place of birth
- languages spoken
- height and weight
- eye color
- hair color, style and length
- facial hair, scars, tattoos and piercings, clothing (including colors and patterns) and eyewear
- purpose for travel and contact information
- photographs of any prohibited items, associated carry-on bags, and boarding documents
- identifying information for traveling companion.