Does right to privacy extend to travel (flight) plans?
Pia Bergqvist writes in this month’s Flying Magazine about private airplane operators’ desire to keep their flights private from flight tracking web sites and the like. The operators view the publishing of their flights as violations of their privacy, which the FAA is mandating in no longer allowing operators to opt out of disclosure of the tail number/flight information dissemination. This, the operators fear, will be a boon for electronic stalkers, the paparazzi or a businessperson’s competitors.
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) filed a joint opening brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit opposing the FAA’s major revisions to the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program. The associations argue that the revisions are illegal and should be invalidated.
AOPA president and CEO Craig Fuller said: “…just because the government collects information doesn’t mean it should be broadcast over the Internet…”
The BARR program, which was put in place in 2000, allowed aircraft owners and operators the option to prevent public dissemination of flight information pertaining to an aircraft’s tail number. But under the new rule, detailed in a notice of modification to the FAA/Subscriber Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) issued on June 3, only certain aircraft with a “Certified Security Concern” are allowed to opt out.
Despite overwhelming opposition from not only industry organizations and aircraft owners and operators, but also civil liberties groups, business organizations and the U.S Chamber of Commerce, to name a few, the FAA put the new rule in place on Aug. 2. In the MOA, the FAA used the government’s focus on openness and disclosure and the Freedom of Information Act to justify its decision.
“Transparency” is the buzzword of the 2000′s thus far, but apparently not everyone supports the concept. What do you think about the publication of flight plans based on tail numbers?