US No Fly List: What It Is and How It Works

On July 4, 2017, in Blog, by Karina Popa

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US Federal government has come up with a number of measures to fight the threat of terrorism on our country. One course of action is the implementation of the No Fly List, created and maintained by the Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC). The List is often made fun of in television shows and movies, so people are curious about it and how it works. Is the No Fly List really efficient?

People on the No Fly List are not allowed to board a commercial airplane flying within/outside the US; the list has sometimes been used to redirect an aircraft that has individuals on the list who are not travelling to and from the US beyond US airspace. The US intelligence compiled a number or names, which differ in length and according to reports; the 2012 List has a total of of 21,000 names.

The No Fly List is different from the Terrorist Watch List, which is actually much longer – since the names included in it amounted to 875, 000, way back in 2013.  Aside from fighting terrorism, the No Fly List also aims to prohibit the travel of recorded sex offenders and illegal narcotics trafficking convicts (or in some cases, suspects). That is why civil rights groups have criticized the No Fly List – due to its vague criteria and the possibility of being abused in terms of economic, ethnic, racial, religious or political groups. Furthermore, it raises concerns in connection with privacy and government secrecy, plus it has been said to be costly, easy to defeat and prone to fake positives.

The No Fly List is currently the subject of many, different court cases against the US government, most importantly for banning travel by individuals who maintain that they have no connection or information on terrorists besides what they watch in the news. Many of them are businessmen, teachers, reporters or those who frequently travel to Muslim nations and/or observe Islam. For this reason, a lot of people have claimed that the list is worsened by prejudice, rather than legitimate intelligence regarding terrorist ties. Such lawsuits, though, are hampered by the privilege of the US government to keep confidential information that could put national security at risk. So, those who are taking legal action find it hard to know the reason behind their inclusion on the List, or challenge the List based on its legitimacy – since they have no proof of improper behavior.

If ever you are worried that your name may be part of the TSA No Fly List or Terrorist Watch List by accident, you have to contact a lawyer in your area that has experience on civil right claims. He/she may advise you to be willing to be interviewed by US intelligence as well as law enforcement offers to find a solution to any confusion concerning your inclusion on the No Fly List.


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