No ID? That’s a watchlisting for you!

Is has been revealed that over the past couple months the TSA has been compiling a list of air travel passengers who refused or were unable to show their ID at security checkpoints. Even when the passengers’ identity was verified by the TSA their name, address, Social Security number, nationality, race and physical features, as well as identifying information about a traveling companion was added to a database and set to be kept for a period of 15 years. The database has also been used to hold the names of people who were questioned by the police for one reason or another, even if they were not charged with any crimes.

Asked about the program, TSA chief Kip Hawley told USA TODAY in an interview Tuesday that the information helps track potential terrorists who may be “probing the system” by trying to get though checkpoints at various airports.

Later Tuesday, Hawley called the newspaper to say the agency is changing its policy effective today and will stop keeping records of people who don’t have ID if a screener can determine their identity. Hawley said he had been considering the change for a month. The names of people who did not have identification will soon be expunged, he said.

No need to actually do anything wrong or even show any indication that you intend to do something wrong. Our government is still going to put your name on a secret list and track your every move. Comforting, huh?

I’m pretty sure that my name is in the database based on this information, though I haven’t played the ID game since the June changes. Still, I’ve had interactions with airport cops because of ID issues. The good news is that whatever list I’m on doesn’t prevent me from flying. The bad news is that the TSA continues to generate lists of names that don’t actually help with security.

Update(8.14.08): The TSA has responded on their blog. Basically they state that it isn’t happening now and won’t in the future, and accuse USA Today of making a mountain out of a mole hill, while ignoring that the DIRECTOR of their agency admitted it was happening and it was such a bad idea that they decided to stop once they were called on it. Morons.

Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.

Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.