Question 3

Have you ever been stopped by a border agent or TSA officer for “secondary inspection?”

Because you've been stopped for secondary inspection

If so, DHS keeps a permanent record that you received heightened scrutiny. You might be on a watch list, or deemed “high risk” by a DHS algorithm used to predict potential law violators.

After 9/11, the U.S. government created multiple “watch lists” to screen travelers, especially those flying on planes and traveling internationally. Often, inclusion on watch lists is unknown to a person until they try to board a plane or cross a border.

The FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB)Opens in new tab is housed at its Terrorist Screening Center. The TSDB includes the No Fly List, the Terrorist Watchlist, and the Selectee List. These lists subject travelers to extended searches and interrogation. The No Fly List is allegedly a small part of the database. But by 2013, hundreds of thousands of people were tracked by the TSDB because either a federal agent or an algorithm suspected that they may have some involvement with terrorism. That number hit 1.2 million by 2017, according to court records.

Some other data systems you may encounter include TECS/ICMOpens in new tab and ATSOpens in new tab.

To see what databases would track you if your answer had been no, click the no button.

If you travel internationally, you have files in DHS databases, even if you have not been stopped for questioning. If you’ve passed through a US border checkpoint in a car, bus, on a boat, or on foot, you have a permanent record on file that details your journey and identity.

If you have ever entered the U.S. on a immigration or non-immigrant visa, you may have records in these DHS databases, among others:

TECS/ICMOpens in new tab archives notes on any previous US border crossings. ATSOpens in new tab checks whatever records you do have to determine if you will be stopped by TSA or CBP agents in future travels.

To see what databases would track you if your answer had been yes, click the yes button.

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Of the 13 monsters in this quiz, it looks like your data may be tracked by the following:

But there may be other smaller surveillance databases not covered in the quiz.

You may be asking yourself "What can we do?".

What now?

To learn more, check out the full From Data Criminalization to Prison Abolition Report.

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More about this quiz

There is no single database that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can consult to find a list of everyone they are able to deport.

As a workaround, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cross-checks many existing datasets. They use information from international visitors, visa holders, and arrest and conviction records. These datasets are not always reliable  at determining legal status. They are also deeply flawed, racist, and xenophobic.

More and more, DHS buys data from corporations to supplement their own databases. They can buy archives of location history, face and voice recognition files, and iris scans. Artificial intelligence tools use this data to predict behavior and infer relationships between people, places, and objects (like vehicles).

We spent months researching databases and data-sharing. But contractors and technologies change all the time, and many government data systems are shrouded in secrecy. We do not claim that the databases listed here make up a complete list, nor is it possible to make that list. Rather, we hope that this tool hints at the tangled and complex web of data extraction and criminalization.

The fight against migrant exploitation, racist border securitization, and deportation is a fight against data criminalization. It is a fight for collective self-determination and data liberation. Read more in our full report.