Even if you’re not on a terror watch list, you aren’t suspected of a crime, and you’re not under any sort of investigation, the Transportation Safety Administration may still be watching you, cataloging your “suspicious behaviors,” and keeping track of your movements in a database they call “Quiet Skies.”
The Boston Globe reports that the previously unknown program “gather[s] details about the peoples’ behavior on the plane to try to thwart any potential aviation threats.”
“Before people board a plane and are watched by federal air marshals, officials use information from the intelligence community and their previous travel patterns to help choose whom to target,” a TSA official confirmed to CNN.
Teams of air marshals and TSA agents then watch passengers while they travel, looking for passengers who might be “abnormally” aware of their surroundings, people who sleep on flights, and individuals who might exhibit classic signs of anxiety, like rubbing their hands together, fidgeting, or sweating profusely.
The TSA insists that the “Quiet Skies” program isn’t singling out innocent Americans for increased surveillance, but the field of potential targets is huge, even by their own admission; everyone and anyone who flies from a major American airport on a commercial airline is within the program’s purview.
“All American citizens who enter the United States are automatically considered for inclusion in the program as officials check their names against watch lists and examine their patterns of travel,” according to CNN.
And it’s all for our own safety, they say.
“The program absolutely isn’t intended to surveil ordinary Americans. Instead, its purpose is to ensure passengers and flight crew are protected during air travel — no different than putting a police officer on a beat where intelligence and information presents the need for increased watch and deterrence. The program analyzes information on a passenger’s travel patterns while taking the whole picture into account and adds an additional line of defense to aviation security,” the TSA said in a statement to the Globe.
Don’t you feel safer?