Have you felt like you have been followed for no particular reason while travelling or at an airport? Well, it turns out that you might have been right!
A recent report in the Boston Globe suggests that the TSA (Transport Security Administration) might have taken security measures a step too far by starting to follow and regulate passengers who might have shown signals that they view as suspicious, although these may, in fact, be normal human behaviours. Although the TSA has been created mainly for the purpose of watching suspicious individuals and preventing terrorist attacks, this may not entirely be their sole objective.
What is the TSA?
The Transportation Security Administration or TSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that has authority over the security of the travelling public in the United States. Its origin stems back from the fatal attack over the U.S. on the 11th of September. The main concern of the TSA is air travel and it works with screening officers positioned at airports, armed Federal Air Marshals on airplanes, and active teams of dog handlers and explosive specialists to prevent any accidents and keep passengers safe.
TSA Following Passengers
Now, although this sounds like a brilliant idea, recently released information points out that this may not be the only purpose of the TSA and it may turn out that you may be followed for no reason, with personal privacy barriers being potentially broken. The released data shares with the public that passengers may not only be followed while at official airport security checkpoints but while at airport terminals. It may even be that you are watched by the TSA on flights.
Initially, the Federal Air Marshals’ duty was to keep an eye on individuals who are part of a list of terrorist names or have been suspected or convicted of other crimes. The marshals’ responsibilities include gathering and noting down detailed information regarding an individual’s behavior as part of a program called “Quiet Skies”. The concept has received a lot of criticism from people and participants in the aviation industry.
Criteria for Being Followed
The Federal Air Marshals are instructed with a list of specific behavioral patterns or moments to look out for, which according to the TSA are considered suspicious. However, some of these are perfectly normal human “symptoms” and have received controversial opinions on whether they should trigger surveillance. Examples of these behaviors include facial flushing, excessive perspiration, sweaty palms, strong body odor, face touching, staring eyes, rapid eye blinking, trembling, or other. As you can imagine, some if not most of these behaviors could be influenced by a number of other factors, such as illness or purely normal, subconscious human behavior.
The information released also states that a large number of U.S. citizens have already been watched without even realizing it. Travel patterns are followed, even losing or gaining weight is noted down by the marshals. So beware, you may have been watched without even having a clue while traveling to your summer vacation or going home for the weekend by plane.