Not too long ago, The Independent reported on an audacious request by the US Department of Homeland Security. That request was for British airlines to submit the personal data of British citizens flying to Cuba, Mexico, and parts of Canada to the US DHS.
From the article:
New rules require British Airways and other airlines flying to certain airports outside America to submit passengers’ personal data to US authorities. The information is checked against a “No Fly” list containing tens of thousands of names. Even if the flight plan steers well clear of US territory, travellers whom the Americans regard as suspicious will be denied boarding.
Yes, you read that right: even when the flights don’t go over US airspace, much less land in the country.
And it’s this kind of meddling in the affairs of other countries that makes me give pause to being proud to be an American. I don’t see how it is the business of the US government what citizens of another country are flying to, say, Toronto or Mexico City.
To make matters worse (again quoting the article):
Those who do supply details may find their trip could be abruptly cancelled by the Department of Homeland Security, which says it will “[m]ake boarding pass determinations up until the time a flight leaves the gate … If a passenger successfully obtains a boarding pass, his/her name is not on the No Fly list.” In other words, travellers cannot find out whether they will be accepted on board until they reach the airport.
So, a British citizen planning a vacation in Cancún could arrive at the airport, go through all the song and dance required by security, then find out at the gate that the US DHS has placed him on the “no fly list” and the vacation is off.
One also has to wonder how an American traveller in Europe would react if he were denied boarding on a flight from London to Rome because the German government had not received sufficient data from him.
And some still wonder why the rest of the world dislikes Americans and hates the US government. Well, things like this are why. This is a slap in the face to the rest of the world. This is, dare I say it, un-American. I don’t know what the DHS was thinking when they came up with this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this runs afoul of some international law somewhere.
Shame on you, DHS.