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A Peek At DHS's Files On You 241

Posted by kdawson
from the fifteen-year-retention dept.
kenblakely writes "We've known for a while that the Department of Homeland Security was collecting travel records on those who cross US borders, but now you can see it for yourself. A Freedom of Information Act request got this blogger a look at DHS's file on his travels. Pretty comprehensive — all the way down to the IP address of the host he used to make a reservation."
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A Peek At DHS's Files On You

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  • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:11PM (#26350667) Homepage Journal

    All your data are belong to us!

    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:19PM (#26350761) Homepage Journal
      DHS are the gestapo. They have been explicitly referred to as the Gestapo by two lawmakers [blogspot.com], Luis V. Gutierrez(D-ill) and Sam Farr(D-CA).

      They have been placed in charge of thoughtcrime [ice.gov] and IP [ice.gov] enforcement among others.

      Are [thesop.org] these [cnn.com] the guys [checkpointusa.org] you want banging at your door at random for the inevitable(give it a few more years) state-sponsored "health and wellness" checks?
      • by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:27PM (#26350853)
        A politician said it so it must be true.
        • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:38PM (#26351005)

          Only when corroborated by a /. post.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @07:10PM (#26351337)

          Read the article. That anyone can say, in the United States, with a straight face, that "words matter" when someone calls law enforcement "the Gestapo" is problem enough.

          The basis for a defense against any such accusations should be to point to their actions. But no, the defense here was to say "words matter" and to try to silence the people making the claims. That's the action of a totalitarian mindset, which, coming from an official of ICE, adds credence to the claims of the politicians.

          • Quoth the AC: "But no, the defense here was to say "words matter" and to try to silence the people making the claims."

            You mean "try to illegally silence the people making the claims."

            Article I, Section 6, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution reads, in relevant part:

            "[Representatives and Senators] shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; an

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by LinkX39 (1100879)
          Furthermore an ILLINOIS politician said it so it must be true. Here in Illinois we have such honest, civic-minded politicians after all.
      • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @07:21PM (#26351469)

        Don't you fucking remember 9/11, when terrorists flew pirated mp3s and child pornography into the twin towers?

        Never forget.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fm6 (162816)

        Please. If they were the Gestapo they'd have cool uniforms. If they were thought police they'd make you do situps like in 1984.

        I'm no fan of DHS, but have some perspective. As repressive police state functionaries go, DHS doesn't even rate. I'd put them somewhere between a pre-Miranda rural US Sheriff's Office and the Canadian Mounties.

      • Gestapo? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mi (197448)

        DHS are the gestapo.

        If there is one reason I can't wait 'till January 21st, it is the reinstatement of the Godwin's Law [jargon.net]:

        Godwin's Law /prov./ [Usenet] "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.

        With Bush in power the law got suspended and it got most fashionable to compa

      • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @08:43PM (#26352137)

        I still cannot believe this gets modded insightful. Let's start with the basics:

        First, you compare something with Nazism that doesn't even being to start to even pale in comparison. This either means you are truly incapable of understanding the difference (unlikely) or you are being dishonest but are trying to score rhetorical points (more likely). That goes for you and the Representatives that said the same thing.

        If you want to try to define the various things that Operation Predator as "thoughtcrime", go right ahead but the vast majority of Americans think that individuals that take concrete steps to, say, have intercourse with a young child ought to be punished. IAAL and, in all instances that I'm aware of, no individual was convicted without having taken concrete steps towards committing a very serious crime. Please enlighten me if I am mistaken.

        Finally, I have no idea where you got the idea that compulsory home-visits for anything are "inevitable" but I can tell you this: barring a dramatic shift in the way the fourth amendment is interpreted, that isn't going to happen. As it is now, you need not answer anyone at your door sans a warrant.

        • Finally, I have no idea where you got the idea that compulsory home-visits for anything are "inevitable" but I can tell you this: barring a dramatic shift in the way the fourth amendment is interpreted, that isn't going to happen. As it is now, you need not answer anyone at your door sans a warrant.

          .

          You haven't dealt with child protective services, have you?

        • by lawpoop (604919) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @11:35PM (#26353713) Homepage Journal
          There was a case from Ohio, I believe, where a prison inmate had kept a diary. This person, IIRC, was a sex offender. In this diary, he wrote down a fantasy he had involving minors. The diary wasn't private, but part of his therapy, and of course the authorities read it. He was charged with creating and possessing child pornography, IIRC. It went either to the Ohio Supreme Court, I believe --

          Actually, I got a lot of the details wrong. It was a private diary, and it went to the common pleas court. But he did get charged 11 years for posession.
          Story. [aclu.org]

          So it was a win for privacy and rationality. But, you can see where the law enforcement folks want this to go. Maybe you'll be arrested for owning a copy of the movie "The Aristocrats".
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @11:51PM (#26353833)

          Finally, I have no idea where you got the idea that compulsory home-visits for anything are "inevitable" but I can tell you this: barring a dramatic shift in the way the fourth amendment is interpreted, that isn't going to happen. As it is now, you need not answer anyone at your door sans a warrant.

          As I found out when a teacher reported my family for child neglect, (she had mixed up my daughter and the girl she often played with), you do have the right to refuse a child protection officer entry without a warrant. They, in return, have the right to have the police enter and seize your children, without a warrant, until the CPS officer has determined that the situation is safe. Refusing entry is considered an admission that an unsafe situation exists. Oh, and when I denied that there was a problem, I was told that if I didn't cooperate, it could take over six months before it would be deemed safe for my children to be returned. And of course, there are the random "followup" visits, to ensure you're still a good parent. Once you have an open file with CPS, they can check up on you at any time, for no reason beyond someone wants to. Even if you were found innocent of the original accusations.

          So technically, you are correct, I can refuse to answer the door. I just need to give up my children to do it.

          I've been kind of amused over recent years, to see the amount of howling and whining that's happened when other people get subjected to the lack of rights that parents have been living with for decades.

    • by Chabo (880571) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:29PM (#26350887) Homepage Journal
      Wait, too soon. [xkcd.com]
  • I'd be interesting to see what it says since I've moved to the UK. I'll do it after my citizenship to see if that makes it on there.
    • by Anthony_Cargile (1336739) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:31PM (#26350913) Homepage
      well you might also find your FBI record [everything2.com] interesting as well.
      • To get them to start a record on you. Begin record: "Subject requests non-existent record of self, begin monitoring immediately after non-record is given."
      • by Joe U (443617)

        After reading 'How to Get a Copy of Your FBI File', I liked how the site directed me to another titled 'Torturing your Sims'.

        Seriously, where do you go from that?

    • Don't! Like this blogger probably already discovered to his detriment, they could put you down for Customs Schedule 405 (mandatory cavity search) or the dreaded Schedule 209 (loud rock music, salad oil, night stick) just for making fun of them on the Internet.

      Seriously, these guys need no excuse nor justification to make any traveler's life a living hell. I'm just wondering if they do that in certain cases, just because they can.
  • So, it is supposed to be tracking the travelers but S^HDHS
    is getting IP address information when a flight is booked.

    So, if the traveler cancels, what was the point of getting the IP?

    And if the traveler had a travel agent book the flights, how
    would having their IP help?

    • by chris_mahan (256577) <chris.mahan@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:56PM (#26351197) Homepage

      Let's say the traveler cancels at the last minute, and the plane blows up. They go check it out, because maybe he/she was tipped off by a friend not to get on the plane.

      I knew a guy who was supposed to be on flight 800 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TWA_Flight_800) but that morning he fell down carrying his metal trash down the stairs and injured himself. He went to the hospital and was OK but he had missed the flight. The next day the FBI came over and wanted to know why he had not been on the plane. He had to convince them that he had gone to the hospital. They went and checked out his story.

      • Let's say the traveler cancels at the last minute, and the plane blows up. They go check it out, because maybe he/she was tipped off by a friend not to get on the plane.

        I knew a guy who was supposed to be on flight 800 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TWA_Flight_800) but that morning he fell down carrying his metal trash down the stairs and injured himself. He went to the hospital and was OK but he had missed the flight. The next day the FBI came over and wanted to know why he had not been on the plane. He had to convince them that he had gone to the hospital. They went and checked out his story.

        yes but how would an IP address help?, an IP address barely corresponds to a nearby town, much less a person. I think their address/phone number would be alot more useful

        • by internewt (640704)

          yes but how would an IP address help?, an IP address barely corresponds to a nearby town, much less a person. I think their address/phone number would be alot more useful

          I guess they note the IP just in case they get something like the httpd logs from forums.terroristsr.us [1], and they can just correlate posts about waging holy jihad on the infadels against recent travellers.

          Of course, they don't need the httpd logs, they can just just cross reference it with the NSA's records of who surfed where and when.

          [1] heh, terroristsr.us looks like it doesn't exist, wonder how good it'd look as my email address on my CV[2]? At least if I get a job with that email address I know the

    • by Shakrai (717556)

      So, it is supposed to be tracking the travelers but S^HDHS is getting IP address information when a flight is booked.

      Actually, what I want to know is why they are bothering to track the IP but not the time that the tickets were bought? If the time of purchase was tracked I don't see it on any of these papers. Isn't knowing the IP without knowing the time that the user was using that IP (remember dynamic IPs are the norm) kind of useless?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cdrguru (88047)

      Since the airlines stopped paying them, I don't think there are any more travel agents. At least I haven't heard of anyone using one in the last 6 years or so. I guess they might still exist, but you have to pay them for anything except cruise ships - I think they still get a commission on those.

      Airfare? Last time was at least 2002, maybe before that.

  • I wish (Score:5, Funny)

    by bugs2squash (1132591) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:27PM (#26350843)
    I wish they would also track credit card spending in the same file.

    Perhaps I could then just forward the DHS records for my travel expense reports.
    • Re:I wish (Score:5, Funny)

      by QuasiEvil (74356) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @07:39PM (#26351603)

      Perhaps I could then just forward the DHS records for my travel expense reports.

      That would rock and save me so much time.

      DHS, are you listening? Oh wait, of course you are. If you could just forward this post to the "suggestions" bucket, I'd appreciate it.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:30PM (#26350893) Homepage Journal

    It's a shame he didn't explain how much identification was required to request this information and how well that identification was checked. I imagine ex-spouses and employers would love a list of where you've traveled and who paid for the ticket.

    • by SomeJoel (1061138)
      Don't forget information about "traveling companions"!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From what I gathered from TFA, all that's required is enough information to identify one single person, and for you to not be a private corporation or group. I.e., anyone who found your passport laying forgotten at an airport could find out where you had been in the last 15 years, and who knows how much more (and scarier) info.
       
      CAPTCHA: answers

    • by againjj (1132651) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @10:19PM (#26353037)

      Access to records are ruled by the Freedom of Information Act. For non-personal information requests, you need give your name, address, daytime telephone number, information on the records you are looking for, and an agreement on amount of fees you are willing to pay. For personal information, you also need a bunch of info on the person (subject), a notarized signature or Under Penalty of Perjury Statement (see third link), and a statement authorizing you to receive the subject's personal information (assuming you are not the subject).

      Sources:
      http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/privacy/privacy_pia_cbp_ats.pdf [dhs.gov] (section 7.1)
      http://www.state.gov/m/a/ips/ [state.gov]
      http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/103067.pdf [state.gov]

  • Nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates (106458) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:31PM (#26350903) Homepage Journal

    Officials use the information to prevent terrorism, acts of organized crime, and other illegal activity.

    Does the DHS have even one documented case of this information preventing said activity? Maybe I'm setting myself up in the wrong way here, but AFAIK, the DHS and TSA combined have never thwarted a terrorist attack or busted the mafia. Perhaps they've used to convict people of violating those administrative rules which no one is allowed to see, but I'm not aware of any evidence which suggests this information actually prevented terrorism or organized crime.

    I mean sure, the FBI has busted criminals, but with regular gumshoe detective work.

    With journalists like these, who needs a terrorist?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by volkris (694)

      Speculation.

      Unfortunately we have no way of knowing. For all we know this information might have actually stopped another major attack or two, saving thousands of lives. Certainly some in the government would like us to believe that.

      But the fact is we don't know and FIOA requests are unlikely to get us the answer.

      Better oversight is definitely needed, but in the mean time we shouldn't assume this stuff has not prevented terrorism. Mainly we should just assume we don't know.

      • Re:Nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by schon (31600) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @08:10PM (#26351887)

        Unfortunately we have no way of knowing.

        Of course we do. You said it in your next sentence:

        this information might have actually stopped another major attack or two, saving thousands of lives. Certainly some in the government would like us to believe that.

        DINGDINGDINGDINGDING!

        If any of this was used in any way to detect or prevent a terr'ist attack, Dick Fucking Cheney himself would be all over the news talking about how the evil terr'ists had been thwarted by the Republicans, and how they need to be given more powers to "protect" you.

        The fact that *nobody* has said that this has been useful in stopping what they claim it stops means that it isn't.

        • Re:Nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by volkris (694) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @09:29PM (#26352601)

          Well, now you're just factually wrong: officials HAVE come out and said that such information has thwarted attacks.

          As I said, oversight is needed to determine whether those claims have merit.

          Anyway, by your reply you seem far too into the "evil Bush" mindset to discuss this in any intellectually honest way, so I'm not going to bother.

          Have a nice day.

          • Well, now you're just factually wrong: officials HAVE come out and said that such information has thwarted attacks.

            And every single time they've done so, the details have not panned out. The point is that we get all the backslapping and public self-congratulation for the bullshit terrorists, but never for any real ones.

            Like this [orlandosentinel.com] - which oops turned out [foxnews.com] not to be about blowing up the plane (after all, he only had SOME parts of a bomb, not all parts, no detonator, and nothing to mix with the nitro in order to make it volatile) but about seeking revenge on some people at his destination. So, while the guy probably belong

            • by volkris (694)

              You're still in the realm of speculation: do you have evidence that every single public claim has been refuted? Certainly your one example doesn't cut it. And then, what about claims that have not been released to the public? Even if you can show that every public claim was overstated, you can't really speak to non-publicized claims.

              So let's just skip it all and demand proper oversight and accountability.

              • You're still in the realm of speculation: do you have evidence that every single public claim has been refuted?

                Every single claim I've ever seen from them has been BS, but you are the one who has said that's "factually wrong" so, show me one that wasn't ultimately BS.

                And then, what about claims that have not been released to the public?

                Don't be dense. The point was that if the ones they brag about are failures, then is is highly unlikely that they would be keeping their successes secret - if they are smart enough to distinguish between the two, then they would obviously refrain from bragging about their failures in the first place.

        • It is feasible that the increased security measures have scared off potential attacks/crimes while they're still undetectable thought.

          I can't really think of any way to prove such things to have actually happened or not, but it does help gray up that black/white situation you've painted where these measures have done absolutely nothing beneficial.
        • by r00t (33219)

          There may be people who cancelled their terrorism
          because the security looked too difficult to defeat.

          Security theater isn't without value.

    • Does the DHS have even one documented case of this information preventing said activity?

      I don't think this is a valid criticism of the work the DHS is doing (and there is a lot of valid criticism). If you think that the only prevents attacks by stopping them at the gate, you are missing the point. Effective security should stop attacks in the planning stages when the terrorists realize their plan cannot work, not at the last possible moment. You can't really collect statistics on all the potential attacks which never got off the ground because of methods like these.

      I'm not defending the fright

      • Re:Nice... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @07:37PM (#26351589)

        Effective security should stop attacks in the planning stages when the terrorists realize their plan cannot work, not at the last possible moment.

        And how are secret measures that it takes a herculean effort even to reveal exist going to do that, especially when combined with the much more well publicized failures of DHS components (e.g., TSA) to do basic thinks like spot images of bombs on baggage screening scanners?

        Heck, even if these measures were publicized, its hard to see how they would help: terrorists, particularly suicide terrorists, aren't going to be particularly concerned that after they blow up the plane they are on, DHS might figure out who they were and where they bought their ticket.

      • You aren't wrong.

        The difficulty is that we can't say either way if any of these programs have had any of the intended positive effects. But there are demonstrable negative effects.

        So we are reduced to magical thinking. Essentially believing (or not) that the price is worth paying only because we wish it to be so.

        This does not seem to me to be a reasonable way to run our government or our lives.

        -Peter

    • It can be really difficult to deturmine exactly what any action "prohibits" unless you've got a lot of data where you can at least begin establish corelational data between TSA/DHS and airbore terrorist attacks. This is kind of difficult to do when you only have one, or a small handful of this sort of thing happening ever to compare against. Since the mandate is "Don't let terrorists blow up our planes" we won't know if it is working until we either catch a terrorist with a bomb on a plane or attempting to
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dun Malg (230075)

        Granted, I don't find the TSA extremely effective per-se, as they let a caught a relative with a pair of 4" scissors who accidentally left them in her sewing bag, but then let her on the plane with them anyway

        The TSA does more than check passengers for box cutters. This incident (besides being anecdotal) says nothing about the TSA, other than that one TSA agent is not a droid and used some common sense. As many have pointed out, the era of small melee weapons being effective hijacking tools is over. Seriously, what do you think would happen if someone pulled out a pair of scissors and said "this is a hijacking"? Remember Richard Reid, the "Shoe Bomber?" They had that fucker hogtied and sedated within minutes of

    • Re:Nice... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @07:06PM (#26351301) Homepage Journal

      Does the DHS have even one documented case of this information preventing said activity?

      I doubt it. I drive through one of these [checkpointusa.org] about once a month and I always chuckle at the sign which reads "Terrorist threat level -- yellow".

      I've ranted about them before so I'll just quickly say that they're there to catch low-hanging fruit like personal drug use and DUI to scare other citizens and fatten the county's coffers through citation. But I have a recent, true story to add:

      A VERY law-abiding acquaintance(we'll call him "Jack") who is a retired State government worker was stopped at one of the checkpoints. They ran a dog around the car and the dog went apeshit. The CBP officers asked if they could search the car, even going so far as to say, "look, if you have something small like a joint, maybe we can make a deal". Of course, there were no drugs in "Jack"'s car so Jack told them to fuck off and get another dog. They did, and whaddya know, the other dog didn't smell shit and so they sent "Jack" on his merry way.

      [tinfoil hat]They probably train a dog to scratch at every fifth car to instill fear among the others who have to watch and to see if they can generate an excuse to tear the car apart looking for bad stuff.[/tinfoil hat] And why not? It worked for FISA and all the retroactive "probable cause" bullshit associated with its gutting of our privacy.

      • [tinfoil hat]They probably train a dog to scratch at every fifth car to instill fear among the others who have to watch and to see if they can generate an excuse to tear the car apart looking for bad stuff.[/tinfoil hat] And why not? It worked for FISA and all the retroactive "probable cause" bullshit associated with its gutting of our privacy.

        Dunno. Does Jack have a dog? Maybe the checkpoint dog smelled something innocent like dog piss.

        • by Chmcginn (201645) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @09:16PM (#26352497) Journal

          Dunno. Does Jack have a dog? Maybe the checkpoint dog smelled something innocent like dog piss.

          The entire point of bomb & drug dog training is to make them ignore the things that interest normal dogs (dogs of the opposite sex, food, dogs of the same sex, and people, generally in that order) and pay attention to the things that their trainers are interested in (high-nitrate compounds, processed coca leaves, or even DVDs [wikipedia.org]).

          If a detection dog is getting distracted by other scents while on duty, it calls into question whether or not they should be used as a cause for further investigation.

      • The CBP officers asked if they could search the car[...] Jack told them to fuck off

        Lucky Jack, he lives in a free country.

        Over here, in France, a police officer has the right to search your car as long as he's Officier de Police Judiciaire (OPJ) or is acting under the orders of an OPJ.

        The catch? Almost all French police officers are OPJ.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      You can't very easily quantify crime prevention - which means it's very hard to say with any level of certainty what it's achieving.

      Most governments seem to be full of empire builders, however, and what better way to build an empire than start out with a department where you can at least in theory fabricate every single piece of evidence regarding how effective you are and nobody can ever prove this?

    • Elephants! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kbahey (102895) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @09:24PM (#26352561) Homepage

      This one is easy ...

      Ever since the DHS has been setup, there are no terror attacks on the USA. So, obviously what the DHS is doing prevents terrorism.

      Is is the same up here in Canada. We sprinkle black pepper on our lawns to prevent elephants from messing then up.

      But there are no elephants in Canada you say? See, more proof that the black pepper works ...

  • by (H)elix1 (231155) * <slashdot.helix@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:35PM (#26350959) Homepage Journal

    I was curious to see what was in my file, as I've had a devil of a time trying to come up with my travel via stamps in the passport. The airlines were not helpful past 2005. I sent in for mine, based on the notes in that article, like this...

    U.S. Customs Service
    1300 Pennsylvania Avenue
      NW., Washington, DC 20229
    January 6, 2009

    To: Freedom of Information Act Request
    From: [helix]
    Subject: INFORMATION RELATING TO ME IN THE AUTMATED TARGETING SYSTEM

    I am requesting information relating to me in the Automated Targeting System. My request is made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. 552). I wish to have a copy of your records made and mailed to me without first inspecting them.

    [helix]

    Born [redacted] in [redacted].

    Passport number: [redacted], issued [redacted], expired [redacted]
    Passport number: [redacted], issued [redacted], expiring [redacted]

    Please mail the information to my home address:

    [redacted]

    Sincerely,

    [redacted]

    and addressed to

    Freedom of Information Act Request
    U.S. Customs Service
    1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
    Washington DC 20229

  • by Chabo (880571) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:36PM (#26350979) Homepage Journal
    I remember an episode of Law and Order: SVU from last year where Richard Belzer's character requests his own file under FOIA. He's telling them where they can park the trucks to deliver it, but he's sorely disappointed when he gets his file and it only contains a single sheet of paper. The writers of the show must be Douglas Adams fans, cause the paper said something fairly equivalent to "Mostly harmless." Belzer's character complained about this, along the lines of "But I was a violent revolutionary!"
  • by john.picard (1440397) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:51PM (#26351139)
    I believe I read somewhere that there are, at any given moment, 60,000 people in the air over the United States alone. That's a tremendous amount of information and more accumulates every day, so much that I cannot imagine how anybody or any software could sift through all of it effectively.
    • I believe I read somewhere that there are, at any given moment, 60,000 people in the air over the United States alone. That's a tremendous amount of information and more accumulates every day, so much that I cannot imagine how anybody or any software could sift through all of it effectively.

      Why not? grep for name, grep for ip address, etc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by chris_mahan (256577)

      And two of these are always US Air Marshals.

      I'm being facetious, but not that much: http://www.cnn.com/2008/TRAVEL/03/25/siu.air.marshals/index.html [cnn.com].

    • That's it - so much of this "information" is merely digital detritus that means nothing. What they have effectively done is set up an entire agency that does exactly what the schmuck in the cube next to you does - gives people the perception he is working by pointing to the growing mound of crap on his desk, but produces absolutely nothing of value.

  • "While there was no charge to me when I requested my records, you might charged a fee of up to $50 if there is difficulty in obtaining your records."

    .

    Obviously, the $50 is payment that is passed onto the p0rn companies as the agents 'need' to fully and completely check out your weblinks.

  • by karl.auerbach (157250) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @07:20PM (#26351455) Homepage

    The person made his request under FOIA. That was not the best vehicle for this.

    A much better law to use to get information about yourself is the Privacy Act.

    The two laws have confusingly similar numbers: 5 USC 552 for FOIA and 5 USC 552a for the Privacy Act.

    The Privacy Act is a much bigger hammer for getting information about yourself. Agencies have many fewer excuses and the deadlines are far shorter. And agencies generally can't make you pay for you to get their information about you.

    Yes, the Privacy Act has many loopholes, but they are much fewer than those in FOIA.

    So, if people are going to do this they should make sure that they make their request under the Privacy Act. They can still use FOIA, but they should do so under a separate cover because the agencies will intentionally conflate the two laws so that they can avoid fully complying with either.

    See: http://www.cavebear.com/archive/nsf-dns/laws.htm

  • I love the timing. The Series Premiere for the new ABC reality show "Homeland Security USA" is tonight. I don't think I'll be watching it, but I have to laugh everytime I see the commercials for it. Maybe its just because when I think of Homeland security I think of the TSA people harassing me at at the airport or the "We have randomly searched your bag for your own protection" letters I find in my luggage occasionally when I fly.
  • I mean, you don't know who is seeing your files.
    Do you trust every gov employee who has access to your data not to pass a few important bits of information to some unscrupulous people?

    It looks like some Credit card number is grayed out.

    You'd never be able to trace it back to it's source.

    Also is it possible to use the freedom of Information act to see other people files?
    I can imagine what a violation of my privacy that would be.

    It's interesting the IP a

    • by Shados (741919)

      The guy specifically states that his credit card info isn't there, fortunately. The IP doesn't have a timestamp, and I didn't look, but isn't there a time stamp on the ticket purchase? because it would be pretty much the same thing at that point...

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @08:00PM (#26351789) Journal

    The billions of dollars spent on the security theater we put up with at airports would buy a hell of a lot of good old-fashioned counterintelligence work, infiltrating organizations that mean to do us harm. The idea that a perp won't go through with an attack if you just suck down a couple more terabytes of data and feel up every woman in the security line is nothing but fantasy.

    -jcr

    • by 77Punker (673758)

      feeling up every woman in the security line is nothing but fantasy.

      -jcr

      Not even a very creative fantasy at that!

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @08:26PM (#26351991) Homepage

    There is a saying, that a married man need not remember his mistakes — his wife will always remind him.

    Similarly, there is, it seems, hardly a need to maintain one's own travel records (such as for tax purposes) as the Government will always be ready to mail a neat envelope with 20 copies...

    The only offensive part here is that although — according to TFA: "Since 2002, the government has mandated that the commercial airlines deliver this information routinely and electronically " (emphasis mine), the records aren't delivered to the citizens neither routinely (only upon request), nor electronically (20 copies by mail?). Oh, and the request, apparently, needs to be filed on bad old paper.

    Time for FOIA-2.0...

    • by againjj (1132651)

      Oh, and the request, apparently, needs to be filed on bad old paper.

      It creates a better paper trail (no pun intended). Electronic documents are so easily fabricated and destroyed. Most legal stuff is paper based.

      • by AaxelB (1034884)

        Electronic documents are so easily fabricated and destroyed. Most legal stuff is paper based.

        Sure, it's downright simple to fabricate fraudulent, unencrypted, unsigned electronic documents. However, paper isn't really much better. These days, how hard is it to fake a seal or a signature? How hard is it to destroy a stack of paper with a shredder or fire? The security and reliability of paper documents is little more than that of using an imprinted wax seal on an envelope.

        I recognize this isn't happening anytime soon, but they could deliver records that are signed with a private key. To further th

  • by hemp (36945) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @09:35PM (#26352649) Homepage Journal

    Before everyone gets all tinfoily, this is merely a PNR (Passenger Name Record) from Continental Airlines reservation system (System One) made through their online website. Most employees at Continental would have access to this.

    Its relatively easy to decode:

    1 CO 40H 20JUN FR EWRFCO HK1 525P 745A 27B

    1 -1st leg
    40H -Flight number + ?
    CO -Continental Airlines
    20Jun -Departs June 20
    EWRFCO -Flight is Newark to Rome
    525P -Departs 5:25 pm
    745A -Arrives 7:45 am
    27B -Seat number

    2 ARNK -ARrival uNKnown, means legs are not continuous

    3 CO 103V 06JUL SU AMSEWR HK1 920A 1150A 27b

    AMSEWR -Return flight is Amsterdam to Newark

    IP Address stuck in case of credit card fraud.

    Most airlines have something very similar that is created every time you make a reservation.

Save gas, don't use the shell.

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