Airline's Disclosure Of Passenger Data Probed


Aug 20, 2002
I have to wonder . . . why is this airline getting "probed" for something a vendor did? I guess the Feds want to get their 15 Billion worth back.

Vendor gave records to four companies, not TSA

-- The Department of Homeland Security's chief privacy officer has launched an investigation into a disclosure by American Airlines that it turned over 1.2 million passenger records to the Transportation Security Administration in June 2002 without the passengers' knowledge or permission.

American is the third airline to acknowledge that it turned over passenger information to the government. The airline said it acted out of a desire to help in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

DHS privacy chief Nuala O'Connor Kelly said her investigation will focus on whether TSA personnel violated federal privacy laws or policies. She said the DHS inspector general also is looking into the matter. An inspector general spokesman was not available to comment.

American Airlines announced Friday that one of its vendors turned over "some passenger travel data" -- itineraries, according to The Associated Press -- to four research companies vying for contracts with the TSA. The transfer of data was done "at the request of the Transportation Security Administration," the airline said.

"Our desire to assist TSA in the aftermath of the events of September 11 was consistent with our focus on safety and security," American spokesman John Hotard said. "No passengers were harmed by the transfer of the data."

Hotard said the discovery came "as American reviewed whether it had turned over such data to the TSA following the announcement of data releases by other carriers."

American authorized its vendor, Airline Automation Inc. (AAI), to turn over the passenger information to the TSA, but AAI instead gave the data to the four companies, the airline said. The firms are HNC Software, Infoglide Software, Ascent Technology and Lockheed Martin, the AP reported.

AAI's attorney acknowledged Saturday that the company gave out the information but said it did so "only after receiving the express authorization of American Airlines" and after receiving written instructions from the TSA.

AAI also obtained detailed nondisclosure agreements from each of the four companies, AAI attorney David Coburn said.

In February, Kelly, the DHS privacy officer, issued a report saying that TSA employees disregarded airline passengers' privacy rights in 2002 when they encouraged JetBlue Airways to give 5 million passenger records to a defense contractor.

TSA employees were instrumental in the decision by JetBlue to transfer the data, she wrote. Yet because the TSA did not receive the data, serving only as middlemen, the transfer did not violate a 1974 privacy law.

Northwest Airlines has disclosed that it turned over passenger information to NASA, whose functions include aviation research, after the September 11 terror attacks.

Full Story - CNN
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Cauley Geller Announces Class Action Lawsuit Against American Airlines In Connection With the Illegal Disclosure of Personal Information Concerning Its Passengers

NEW YORK, April 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Law Firm of Cauley Geller Bowman & Rudman, LLP announced today that it has filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas on behalf of all persons who have had personal and private information about them unlawfully gathered and transmitted to third parties by American Airlines and Airline Automation, Inc. A copy of the complaint filed in this action is available from the Court, or can be viewed on the firm's website at .

The complaint charges American Airlines, AMR Corp.(NYSE:AMR) (NYSE: AMR), Airline Automation, Inc., Fair, Isaac and Company(NYSE:FIC) , Inc. (formerly known as HNC Software), Infoglide Software, Corporation, Ascent Technology, Inc., and Lockheed Martin Corp.(NYSE:LMT) (NYSE: LMT) with violating the Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and asserts various state law causes of action. More specifically, the complaint alleges, among other things, that American Airlines disregarded its privacy policy regarding the collection and use of personal information concerning its customers when it authorized Airline Automation to disclose private and confidential information to third parties concerning more than one million of its passengers. That highly confidential information was provided to and used by, among others, Fair, Isaac and Company(NYSE:FIC) , Infoglide Software, Ascent Technology, and Lockheed Martin, all private companies.

The Complaint seeks, among other things, for each Class Member: (i) at least $1,000 in statutory damages for the illegal use of stored electronic communications; and (ii) other actual, statutory and punitive damages. In addition, the Complaint seeks an order: (i) enjoining the defendants from continuing their illegal actions; (ii) requiring American to conduct a corrective information campaign advising consumers whose confidential data has already been disclosed how to prevent further unwanted intrusions; and (iii) requiring the destruction and purging of all personal confidential information collected or shared as a result of the defendants' illegal conduct.

If you have any questions about this lawsuit, you are encouraged to call or e-mail the Firm or visit the Firm's website at .