TSA program monitors innocuous traveler behavior such as whether a person slept on their plane, used the bathroom, or obtained a rental car


Washington (July 31, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, this week questioned the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after The Boston Globe revealed the existence of a domestic surveillance program called “Quiet Skies.” The news report revealed that federal air marshals are tracking U.S. citizens on planes and in airports even though they are not suspected of a crime, and then surreptitiously monitoring their behavior. In his letter, Senator Markey described the serious implications of the Quiet Skies program, expressed his concerns that the program is a violation of privacy rights, and questioned whether it is an effective use of federal resources.


“The Quiet Skies program is the very definition of ‘Big Brother’, and innocent Americans should not be subject to this kind of violation of their rights,” said Senator Markey. “This program raises serious privacy concerns, and depending on what criteria are being used for selecting individuals to surveil, including ethnicity, nationality, race, or religion, the program may be unconstitutional. We need answers about this questionable program, including if it actually resulted in arrests or prevented terrible events.”


A copy of the letter to TSA can be found HERE.


In his letter, Senator Markey requested answers to questions that include:

  • How does the TSA select individuals to monitor under the Quiet Skies program, and whether the TSA uses any criteria related to, or serving as a proxy for, ethnicity, nationality, race, or religion;
  • How does the TSA monitor individuals selected for surveillance under the Quiet Skies program, including what aspects of individual behavior are evaluated and what means of surveillance the TSA employs;
  • How many individuals has the TSA monitored under the program since it began;
  • What is the TSA’s annual budget for Quiet Skies and how many federal employees work on this program;
  • Has anyone surveilled under Quiet Skies been arrested or prosecuted, and has Quiet Skies uncovered any threats to an airplane, its passengers, or the public?