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Airlines provide passenger data.

Northwest Airlines provided information on millions of passengers for a secret U.S. government security project after the 9-11 terrorist attacks on America, the Washington Post reported on January 17. The airline says it gave the data to the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) to assist the government search for technology to improve aviation security. Last September Northwest spokesmen had denied providing the passenger information to the agency. In January, however, the airline admitted it had given NASA the information because of "a duty and an obligation to cooperate with the federal government for national security reasons." But the company says it will not divulge this information in the future.

Last year JetBlue Airways admitted that it had violated its own privacy policy by providing passenger data to a private Defense Department contractor, Torch Concepts of Huntsville, Alabama, for a project on military base security. The Torch program involved data mining of passenger information such as credit reports and consumer transactions.

"It's basically a prototype for CAPPS II," Internet security specialist Richard M. Smith told the Associated Press, referring to the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-screening System, a nationwide computer data mining program being developed by the Transportation Security Administration. Torch Concepts used data provided by JetBlue as well as data mining to gather demographic data about the passengers, including Social Security numbers and information about their finances and families. "This was a mistake on our part," JetBlue CEO David Neeleman said in an e-mail sent to customers. Neeleman's e-mail said that Torch "developed this information into a presentation, without JetBlue's knowledge, for a Department of Homeland Security symposium."
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Title Annotation:Insider Report
Publication:The New American
Date:Feb 9, 2004
Words:269
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