The Fictional Right to Privacy

Going, going, gone?


Constitutional Law 101

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in 1928 said it best in his dissent in the Olmstead vs US 277 US 438 (1928) wiretapping case …

“The makers of our Constitution understood the need to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness, and the protections guaranteed by this are much broader in scope, and include the right to life and an inviolate personality, the right to be left alone …”

Justice Brandeis had it right a long time ago … But things do change …

Related privacy issues

It comes as no surprise that there have been strenuous objections by business aircraft people to the FAA’s recent proposal to monitor private aircraft movements. There have been more than 700 objections filed against the FAA’s proposal.

This policy will give anyone in the world the equivalent of an Internet homing device to track movements of citizens and company aircraft in real time through sites such as Flight Aware and others. How true. The “do not track” program (BARR) for operators of private aircraft will be eliminated so that all IFR flights may be tracked by anyone. So much for privacy.

The DOT has already approved the new proposal to drop protection under the BARR program. The FAA’s proposal is in the works and will only allow protection of flights if they can show “a valid security concern,” if their flight information is disclosed on line. Keep in mind that all jets must file IFR in order to go anywhere. By the way, many of your personal cell phones are also programmed to track your calls and your location. When will all private aircraft be tracked? Who needs a warrant anymore?

We have to keep in mind that where the corporate boss has no privacy, the technicians who look after his aircraft and crew have no privacy either. Technicians in certificated activities have already had their privacy rights invaded in regard to drug and alcohol testing. Interesting to note that European activities have not. It’s no wonder they can outbid our domestic repair stations on outsourced work.

The Obama administration had pledged to protect citizens’ privacy rights, but it looks like they are allowing the FAA to trample them. What’s to stop government from releasing airline passenger manifests, your credit card use, driver E/Z pass hi-way information, cell phone traffic, etc. Again, no warrants necessary here.

There is a long history of a citizen’s right of privacy even where there have been compelling reasons to deny such privacy. The FAA and DOT could be responsible for a dangerous and invasive release of aircraft flight activity. Lives could easily be in danger as well as private business interests.

Privacy: SMS and ASAP

Private proprietary information is a primary objection to many of the FAA data collection programs recently enacted by FAA fiat including the new vaunted SMS program which is now being required of all Part 121 air carrier operators. Further, it is planned to be extended to repair stations, airports, and no doubt Part 135 operators in the near future. No one really knows the scope of the data to be collected, but it will be large and probably sweep up much private and proprietary operating information.

We all remember when ATOS and CSET were impressed upon airlines and FAA personnel, both wholly unprepared or incapable of applying the standards required. ATOS was labor intensive and time consuming and only recently found to be a failure by the FAA Inspector General. The FAA never could have enough inspectors to complete the ATOS program and still does not. This failed program is still active even though it has been declared a failure. Now FAA moves on to a new initiative promoted by ICAO and its EU partners, that will allow for “sharing” of safety operating data among other things.

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