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.
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.
We're sorry for any inconvenience, Gary. Our team at DCA is working as efficiently as possible to get passengers screened and cleared through TSA PreCheck™ as soon as possible, without having to remove your shoes, laptop, travel-sized liquids, light jacket or belt.
— AskTSA (@AskTSA) March 3, 2020
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?