Following the USA PATRIOT act’s introduction in 2001 the FBI have the ability to request all information on any person held by a US company. This includes airlines, credit card, ISPs, and other internet companies.
For example a UK Citizen could go to Heathrow Airport and fly to Edinborough, and the US goverment could have all the information about the flight,and book the passenger read on the flight, if he used the credit card owned by a US company.
In 2004 the following admissions were made by US Airline companies:
- JetBlue admitted giving 5 million records of passengers lists to the US goverment
- Northwest Airlines admitted voluntarily giving millions of passenger records to NASA (though originally denying it)
- American Airlines admitted to shared 1.2 million records with TSA (Transport Security Administration)
- United Airlines also admitted handing over passengers lists to the US Goverment.
The exchange of data between private companies and the US government has continued at a great pace following the USA PATRIOT Act, often on a global scale. These issues will be explored in later articles on this site.