To help track suspected terrorists, the Federal Bureau of Investigation scans through the records of many businesses. The records of travel companies are targeted in particular. Wired has the scoop in its blog post on newly declassified files.
To sum it up, the FBI's National Security Branch Analysis Center tracks the national and international travel records of citizens. Recently, the center snapped up the following info:
• 55,000 entries on customers of hotels including Ramada Inn, Days Inn, Super 8, and Howard Johnson
• 730 records from rental-car company Avis
• 17,000 traveler itineraries from the major airlines
Here's an example of what the FBI does with the data: Avis' records were compared against one of the State Department's terrorist watch lists, to try to spot patterns of suspicious behavior or find the whereabouts of suspected plotters.
Maybe I've been watching The Wire, too much, but this news doesn't worry me. I'm partly amused by the thought of some bureaucrat wearing a solid white, short-sleeved T-shirt and a black tie being forced to transcribe my travel plans. Makes me want to take some more exotic itineraries just to spice things up.
Does the FBI's monitoring of citizens' travels make you feel safer? Or do you feel that your privacy is being invaded?
A rare peek at Homeland Security's files on travelers (220+ comments)