Written byShubham Sharma
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employs a range of tools and databases to de-anonymize and track criminal suspects.
But, it is not always that the Bureau resorts to covert spy programs for tracking a person; the organization, as Forbes reports, can also use the help of Sabre, a public, multi-billion-dollar travel technology company, for its surveillance work.
Here's more about it.
Founded by American Airlines in the 1960s and later spun off into an independent company, Sabre is a travel giant maintaining the biggest global distribution system, a database of records pertaining to the travel industry, starting from airline itineraries and hotel bookings to rental cars.
It is the largest travel data holder in the world and processes over a third of all air bookings.
"They could tell you where [a traveler] came from and the flight that they were on, where they were sitting. Sabre maintains those records," Jim Menge, a former Sabre Vice-President, told Forbes.
Given that Sabre has so much data around travel/stay of people around the world, the FBI has called the company on multiple occasions to provide travel information on the movements of its targets.
It has tracked the movements of suspects in both major and minor criminal cases, but the most prominent role was when it helped the US retrace the paths of 9/11 hijackers.
Sabre has also been asked to perform a real-time trace (at least once) of a hacking suspect - Deepanshu Kher.
FBI had asked the company to provide "complete and contemporaneous real-time account activity information of the traveler [Kher] on a weekly basis" for six months, including "any travel orders, transactions or reservations."
A month later, Kher was apprehended and put on house arrest.
Among others, Russian credit card fraudster Alexei Burkov was also captured using the intel provided by Sabre. He was extradited from Israel in 2019 and has pleaded guilty to the charges of fraud, identity theft, computer intrusion, wire fraud, and money laundering.
So far, Sabre has not commented on its tracking work with the FBI or the US government.
However, if confirmed, this would be incredibly disturbing and raise major questions around snooping operations by the American government, especially considering that Sabre does not just hold the data of US travelers but also those from other parts of the world, including India.
Love World news?
Subscribe to stay updated.