The US Department of Transportation (DOT) announced today that the fourth in a series of public meetings of the Advisory Committee on Aviation Consumer Protection will focus on privacy issues.  This DOT Committee has been working on various rulemaking and enforcement initiatives affecting consumer protection in air travel, but this will be the first time that privacy practices and use of data have been made the central topic of a Committee meeting.  The DOT supervises airlines privacy practices because airlines are subject to sector-specific oversight (air carriers are among the businesses that are excluded from the FTC’s Section 5 authority). 

The announcement states that the meeting will address the treatment of personally identifiable information collected in connection with the purchase of air travel from airlines and travel agents.  Issues to be discussed include: 

  • what information is collected and by whom?
  • who retains information (airlines, travel agents, including on-line travel agents (OTAs), and global distribution systems (GDSs))?
  • what privacy policies are in place and is information used consistent with those policies?
  • what security measures are in place to protect against unauthorized access?  

The meeting will be held on May 21st at the FAA Headquarters from 9am to 5pm Eastern Time. The meeting will involve presentations from government representatives, the airline and travel agent industry, including GDSs and OTAs, and consumer privacy groups. The meeting will be open to the public and written comments may be submitted in advance of the meeting. The docket number is OST-2012-0087 (https://www.regulations.gov).