FBI ‘No Fly’ list leaked

A hacker found a database with a ‘no-fly’ list on an unsecured CommuteAir server containing mainly Muslim passengers.

A redacted 2019 version of the anti-terrorism ‘no-fly’ list was located on the Michigan-based airline CommuteAir server by a Swiss hacker using the pseudonym "maia arson crimew" on January 12.

The hacker found a database while searching for unsecured servers online. One stumbled upon "NoFly.csv" and "selectee.csv" files that contained more than 1.5 million entries, including names and dates of birth of people identified by the FBI as "known or suspected terrorists" who are prevented from boarding aircraft. Additionally, the server stored confidential CommuteAir employee information, such as passport numbers.

A Republican congressman Dan Bishop, who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, raised his concerns regarding the leak in Congress and urged for answers.

The recent week was turbulent for the US air industry due to failing technologies. Southwest Airlines had to cancel a large number of flights due to outdated scheduling software. At the same time, the Federal Aviation Administration had to ground all domestic flights due to a corrupted database file in a safety system.

List included four-year-olds

The founded ‘no-fly’ list predominantly consists of Arabic and Muslim-sounding names which caused human rights activists’ concerns. More than 10% of the entries (174,002 of 1,566,062) contained the “MUHAMMAD” name. Three four-year-olds and twenty-five individuals as old as hundred years were also listed as potential “suspects.”

Human rights advocate Edward Hasbrouck commented in his post on the Papers, Please website that the list shows clear Islamophobia by the authorities and “overconfidence in the certainty of its pre-crime predictions.” Papers, Please is the advocacy group dedicated to addressing troublesome identity-based US travel rules,

“It’s just crazy to me how big that Terrorism Screening Database is and yet there is still very clear trends towards almost exclusively Arabic and Russian sounding names throughout the million entries,” said maia arson crimew to The Daily Dot.

Implemented after 9/11

The ‘no-fly’ list was established under the George W. Bush administration, initially as a small list of individuals prohibited from flying on commercial flights due to perceived threats.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the list was formalized and expanded to include individuals identified by the FBI as potentially posing a threat to civil aviation or national security.

These individuals have not necessarily been charged or convicted of a crime but could be only suspected of aiding or planning acts of terrorism. The list has grown significantly since its inception, from just 16 names to over 1.8 million entries.

The ‘no-fly’ list was criticized, as there were numerous instances where individuals were mistakenly added to it, including prominent figures such as Senator Ted Kennedy and peace activists Rebecca Gordon and Jan Adams.

In 2006, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) successfully filed a lawsuit which led to the release of 30,000 names on the list and the creation of an ombudsman by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to handle complaints about the list.

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