US uses travel giants as spying tools

The US Secret Service used the 1789 All Writs Act to make tourism giants Sabre and Travelport track an alleged Russian hacker Read Full Article at RT.com

US uses travel giants as spying tools
9 Jun, 2022 00:24 HomeWorld News

US uses travel giants as spying tools

Secret order under a 1789 law made travel companies track a person of interest

Using a 233-year-old law, the US government ordered two major global travel companies to track a Russian national so he could be arrested and extradited, Forbes magazine disclosed on Wednesday. The outlet sued to obtain the court records, aided by privacy advocates who have criticized such warrants as secretive and easy to abuse.

The magazine also revealed that Aleksey Burkov, the alleged hacker at the heart of the affair, was sent back to Russia in 2021 under circumstances the US government has yet to fully explain.

“complete and contemporaneous real-time account activity” of Burkov’s travel for two years, and give weekly reports to the US Secret Service, Forbes reported. This was “significantly longer” in duration than a previous order issued to Sabre, telling the company to track another alleged hacker for a period of six months – which Forbes also dug up in 2020. The court also banned the two companies from disclosing the order without prior permission.

refused. The government was eventually able to unlock the phone, reportedly using Israeli software, but said it found nothing of use. 

“Too much about these types of warrants is hidden from the public,” Forbes quoted Jennifer Granick, a surveillance and cybersecurity counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She called the collection of information about future travel “particularly invasive and susceptible to abuse.”

“The police are capitalizing on private data collection to obtain revolutionary surveillance powers that are essentially unapproved and unsupervised by democratic processes,” she said.

“I’m an average man. I was dealing with cyber security and programming, I worked with databases. I did have acquaintances among people complicit in hacking, but I myself didn’t commit those crimes – the Americans simply decided to blame all this on me,” Burkov told RT in October 2019. 

extradited to the US in June 2020, and sent to a prison near Washington, DC. The DOJ has “yet to provide a full explanation” why he was released and sent back to Russia in September 2021.