DOT to investigate data security and privacy practices of top US airlines


The US Department of Transportation announced its first industry-wide review of data security and privacy policies at the largest US airlines.

The DOT said in a press release Thursday that the review will examine whether U.S. airline giants are appropriately protecting their customers’ personal information and whether airlines are “unfairly or deceptively monetizing or transferring that data to third parties.” Sharing with the party.”

The letters to airline executives will include questions about how airlines collect and handle passengers’ personal information, monetize customer data through targeted advertising, and how employees and contractors handle passenger information. Is trained.

Those airlines include Allegiant, Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United.

The department, which oversees U.S. government policy on all matters related to transportation, said it would investigate and take enforcement action if it found evidence of problematic practices.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the purpose of the review was “to ensure that airlines are making good stewardship of sensitive passenger data.”

The DOT did not say what specifically prompted the review, but said the action was part of the U.S. government’s “broader effort to protect consumer privacy across the economy.”

In recent months, the US Federal Trade Commission – which regulates consumer data privacy matters – has banned data brokers and other companies from sharing users’ sensitive location and browsing data with others, fearing data breaches. It has ordered the affected companies to improve their security practices, and pledged to strengthen the federal law called COPPA that prevents companies from obtaining data on children under 13.

The FTC is also “exploring rules to more broadly crack down on surveillance and the harms caused by lax data security,” the DOT said.

Transportation Secretary Buttigieg said the DOT’s privacy review will be conducted with the expertise and partnership of Senator Ron Wyden, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Wyden has raised concerns about sensitive US consumer data being shared with and sold to data brokers – companies that collect and resell people’s personal data, such as precise location data, which is often stored on their phones and computers. Is obtained from.

In recent months, Wyden has warned that data brokers sell access to Americans’ personal information, allowing them to learn what websites they visit and what places they visit. Wyden also warned that US intelligence agencies can buy – and have bought – commercially available information about Americans from data brokers, which the intelligence community argues requires them to search for the data they buy. There is no need to obtain a warrant.

In remarks, Wyden said: “Because consumers will often never know that their personal data was misused or sold to dubious data brokers, effective privacy regulation cannot rely on consumer complaints to identify corporate abuses.” It is possible.”

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