Senator questions airlines' data privacy practices

Jay Rockefeller raises concerns about airlines collecting and sharing personal information

A senior U.S. senator is asking airlines about their data privacy practices, saying he's concerned about what information the companies are collecting and sharing with third parties.

Some consumer advocates have raised concerns that airline privacy policies "can contain substantial caveats and that it is difficult for consumers to learn what information airlines and others in the travel sector are collecting, keeping, and sharing about them," Senator John "Jay" Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, wrote in a letter to 10 U.S. airlines Monday.

The airlines receiving the letters included United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Airlines contacted about Rockefeller's letter didn't immediately respond to requests for comments.

A spokeswoman for Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, didn't point to specific complaints about airline privacy policies, but noted that he has focused on raising consumer awareness about the personal information they provide online. This year, Rockefeller has introduced theData Security and Breach Notification Act, which would create a federal standard for companies to safeguard the personal information they hold and to notify consumers if their systems are breached.

"Data collected during ticket purchase can include a passenger's name, credit card numbers, date of birth, addresses, travel destinations, and travel companions, among other information," Rockefeller wrote in the letter. "No comprehensive federal privacy law currently applies to the collection, use, and disclosure of consumer travel information."

Some privacy groups have raised concerns about airline privacy in recent years, but the focus has been more on airline security measures after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. than on airlines collecting and sharing personal information.

Much of Rockefeller's letter covers add-on fees that airlines charge customers for carry-on luggage, priority seating and other services. But the letter also asks the airlines what personal information they collect, how long they keep it and what privacy and security protections they have in place.

The letter also asks the airlines whether they share the personal information with third parties and the reason for sharing it.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityprivacydata protectionindustry verticalsamerican airlinestransportationDelta Air LinesU.S. SenateSouthwest AirlinesUnited AirlinesJohn "Jay" Rockefeller

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?