Saw this article today and thought it was both interesting and scary. Sean O’Neil filed a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act Request) to Customs to see what kinds of information they were collecting on travelers coming into and out of the U.S. What he found was that first of all, the reports are boring, but they collect an enormous amount of info.
My biggest surprise was that the Internet Protocol (I.P.) address of the computer used to buy my tickets via a Web agency was noted. On the first document image posted here, I’ve circled in red the I.P. address of the computer used to buy my pair of airline tickets.
[An I.P. address is assigned to every computer on the Internet. Each time that computer sends an e-mail—or is used to make a purchase via a Web browser—it has to reveal its I.P. address, which tells its geographic location.]
The rest of my file contained details about my ticketed itineraries, the amount I paid for tickets, and the airports I passed through overseas. My credit card number was not listed, nor were any hotels I’ve visited. In two cases, the basic identifying information about my traveling companion (whose ticket was part of the same purchase as mine) was included in the file. Perhaps that information was included by mistake.
I think that the amount of ‘stuff’ they collect is just huge and I don’t like the idea that agencies are sharing it. I’m curious to see what else they have on each of us, if this is what was found from just requesting from Customs. Furthermore, if its being used to fight terrorism as the gov. says it is, how quickly and more important, accuratly, can they assemble the info into some kind of usable profile? Who are these profiles being shared with?