How’s This For A Creepy Tweet From TSA?

The TSA responded to one of my tweets, divulging personal information about me, and it’s a reminder of how much freedom we’ve given up in the name of a false sense of security.

Growing up in the late 1980s and early 1990s it seemed that freedom was ascending across the world. The Berlin Wall fell, and then the Soviet Union collapsed. It even seemed as though China was rising up, with tank man standing athwart tyranny at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

One of my favorite films from the early 2000s was The Lives Of Others depicting the spying on East German everyday life, and how the powers of the security state were used to satisfy the petty agendas of bureaucrats who held power. The depiction of East German life in more recent television series Deutscheland 83 is worth watching, despite a rather surreal plot of a young man finding himself in improbably situations spying on the West.

With two parties talking seriously about nationalism and democratic socialism, as a country we’ve forgotten which way traffic flowed over the Berlin Wall. But the growth of the state didn’t come from Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. It’s ratcheted up consistently in past administrations, regardless of party, in response to one crisis after another.

President Clinton wanted to look like he was doing something after TWA 800 (even though that was found not to have been a terrorist attack). That’s when we got ID requirements to fly.

After 9/11 though things really escalated. Even pre-Snowden I pointed to government collection of all cell phone geolocation data and monitoring movements of law abiding citizens via traffic cams.

Today we literally have to get the government’s permission to fly. Airlines provide ‘advance passenger information’ to the government and in return get direction whether any given passenger must be subjected to additional security screening or even whether they’re allowed to fly at all.

I tweeted my experience with a long line at CLEAR for the first time. Government has my biometrics anyway so I might as well get faster security out of it. I noted, though CLEAR was backed up, that PreCheck was worse.

TSA replied telling the world what airport I was in. TSA social media knew where I was and had no concern sharing that information with the world.

Now someone speculated on social media that they merely ‘guessed’ because I never updated my twitter profile when I move away from there six years ago. That seems implausible, they’d have had less than a 50% chance of being right even then. I could have been on the back end of a trip.

You’re being watched, and even the government’s twitter team appears to have some access. And if that doesn’t frighten you it shows just how far through the looking glass we’ve gone. As you consider the question it might be a good time to remind that the TSA accidentally shared classified docuemnts in court showing they didn’t actually believe there was an active threat against U.S. aviation. What are we doing this for?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. What exactly did you think that tweet was going to accomplish? Seriously.

    Any time you take any action it can bite you. I rarely post anything about my travels until my family is back home. Why take any risk that someone might be watching and break into my house or car?

    Not to excuse the TSA idiot, of course.

  2. @toomanybooks – there’s an impression that CLEAR = no lines, it was a minor data point in my travel experience noting otherwise

  3. On the plus side, while they have the data to know you were in DCA, they appear to lack the reading comprehension to know that you were in the Clear line and not the pre-check line.

  4. I’m always blown away by how passive everyone was and still is about the Patriot Act and the FISA warrantless wire taps. Even Obama, who was campaigning against the Iraq war and disastrous post 9/11 war-on-terror policies, voted for FISA re-authorization in 2008.

    These policies obviously aren’t popular with the public. Why is there not any resistance in Congress?

  5. Just another knee jerk reaction from the bureaucrats that run this country and excuse to further bloat the size of government. Does anyone, other than the Ma and Pa Kettle’s that fly once a decade really think TSA has done anything to protect us. A complete waste of time and money.

  6. I think you made them a little steamed Gary…looks like that from their snarky reply so why not abuse you with a little note that “WE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE”

    I can picture the airlines customer service doing the same if you sassed them. The problem is air transport is completely mobbed up with the government these days and both sides use it for their, as you accurately described, need “to satisfy the petty agendas of bureaucrats”

  7. Agree with “too many books”…if you’re not posting your “stuff” you won’t get these responses. Not feeling your pain at all

  8. Congress is probably too busy trying to impeach President Trump rather than attend to their normal duties and buying stocks “on insider trading information”.

  9. @gary, @Robert… wash your hands next time; don’t you know there’s a viral virus going around?

    Lol, jk.

  10. Seems like every time we give up some of our rights, ostensibly as a “temporary” measure, they never relinquish the additional burden upon the average individual..
    There is a peculiar perversion of all these measures, in that “form is more important than substance,” so the reason someone might be stopped is because they might have 4.1 ounces of liquid, more that the 4 ounces per regulation. As you have often pointed out, it is not about security, it is about making sure we, the masses .follow the rules’
    Has anyone looked at the financial/time burden this places on the economy?

  11. “You’re being watched” – Yes, you are. You knew that when you signed up for any of the government’s expedited security services. Why in the world you’d be surprised that they know when you’re going through an airport security checkpoint is beyond me.

    It’s couldn’t be any less creepy. It’s literally their job.

  12. @Gary. I agree with you. Government has massive expanded its power. The Bush II government went put in place a surveillance state and the Obama government expanded it.

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