Washington, DC, May 28, 2011 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) strongly denounced a decision, announced by government officials late Friday afternoon, to push ahead with what has been dubbed a "Paparazzi Protection Rule" – a plan to virtually eliminate a decade-old “do not track” program for the operators of private aircraft.
"We are outraged at the government's move," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "As we've said repeatedly, there can be no legitimate reason for a government agency to facilitate the monitoring of wholly private activity by anyone with an internet connection. This incomprehensible policy reversal gives anyone in the world – terrorist, criminal, tabloid stalker, business competitor – the equivalent of an internet homing device to track the movements of citizens and companies in real time."
Bolen went on to reject the claim – made in a May 27 press release revealing the government's plans for dismantling the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program – that publishing an airplane tail number doesn't reveal the identity of the travelers aboard.
"That argument is pure sophistry," Bolen said. "With an aircraft tail number, anyone with a little initiative can quickly determine the travelers on an aircraft." To illustrate his point, Bolen cited a front-page article, published in The Wall Street Journal on May 21, that describes the flying patterns of numerous citizens and companies based on tail-number information alone.
Bolen noted that Congress enabled the BARR program out of the recognition that getting on an airplane should not be tantamount to forfeiting security or privacy. "That's why the House of Representatives, thousands of individuals and companies and organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable have opposed the government's gratuitous invasion of privacy rights," he said.
Bolen pointed out that the move also puts the government on a slippery slope when it comes to privacy protections. "If this rule passes," he asked, "What's to stop the government from releasing the records on drivers' E-Z pass use on highways, passenger manifests for airline flights, individuals' cell-phone calling traffic, and consumers' credit card use?
"What is most puzzling about this rule is that the Obama administration has pledged to increase privacy protections, not diminish them," Bolen said. "But here, government officials have chosen to sidestep the original intention of the U.S. Congress, the voices of thousands of citizens and companies, and a basic responsibility to safeguard the right to privacy in favor of a rule to invade the privacy and security of passengers in order to cater to tabloid special interests and others with suspect motives. When it comes to privacy rights, this is not the kind of change that the American people want."
For more information on the BARR program, visit NBAA's web site: www.nbaa.org
Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 8,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world's largest civil aviation trade show.