Book Check

Big Brother is reading


The next time you travel through airport security, make sure to pack a spare Sean Hannity book. According to a September report from Wired News, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is storing and aggregating information on international flyers in a massive database—including a card catalog of information on our reading habits.

John Gilmore, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filed a Privacy Act request demanding access to all unclassified information obtained by DHS' Automated Targeting System, a database that assigns travelers a "risk assessment rating" based on a variety of factors. Gilmore's file contained information on books packed in his luggage—he was carrying Drugs and Rights, by Rutgers philosopher Douglas Husak—and noted that he was in possession of "many small flashlights with pot leaves on them."

The flashlights, which promote the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, bear the phrase "Freedom of Thought" above a green image of the Statue of Liberty with a crown that resembles a marijuana leaf. Gilmore, who recommends that DHS be "dissolved, disbanded, disempowered, and disrespected," advises travelers to make a statement to government snoops by packing "a small, useful keychain flashlight advocating for 'Freedom of Thought.'?"