Transportation Department reviewing airlines’ privacy practices

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The Transportation Department announced Thursday that it will be reviewing the privacy practices of the top 10 airlines in the United States.
Federal officials said they will be looking into how the airlines collect, handle and use their passengers’ personal information. The department will specifically be looking into whether airlines are protecting customers’ private data and whether they are “unfairly or deceptively” monetizing it or sharing it with third parties.
“Airline passengers should have confidence that their personal information is not being shared improperly with third parties or mishandled by employees,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
“This review of airline practices is the beginning of a new initiative by DOT to ensure airlines are being good stewards of sensitive passenger data,” he added.
Mishandling consumers’ personal information could be considered an unfair or deceptive practice, for which airlines could face investigations and civil penalties, the Transportation Department (DOT) warned.
The department said it sent letters to Allegiant, Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United informing them of the review. Officials are requesting information on their privacy procedures, complaints alleging that the airline mishandled personal data and information on privacy training.
“U.S. airlines take customers’ personal information security very seriously,” a spokesperson for trade group Airlines for America told The Hill, adding that the airlines have “robust policies, programs and cybersecurity infrastructure to protect consumers’ privacy.”
A spokesperson for Allegiant Air said it welcomed the Transportation Department’s review in a statement to The Hill, explaining that the airline believes it is “compliant with applicable law and effectively protect any customer personal data in our possession.”
American Airlines referred The Hill to Airlines for America.
The Hill has reached out to the airlines that were sent letters by the Transportation Department for comment.

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